to the EDITOR/Assignment Editor/News Director:
The following information is embargoed until 10:30 AM CST on July
23rd. You are welcome to access the 2001 Oklahoma KIDS
COUNT Factbook and this press release on the web to gain additional
background, charts and statistical information specific to the
Monday, July 23, there will be press events held in Oklahoma City
(10:00 am) and in Tulsa (1:00 pm). Information will be sent to
media outlets the week of July 16.
Suffers from New Brain Drain:
School Readiness is Not Childs Play
types of experiences a child has in the first years of life have
a decisive impact on the development of his brain and the nature
and extent of his adult capabilities. Young children who are well
cared for can reap large rewards. Children who are exposed to
poverty, violence, drugs, or who are abused or neglected early
in life can pay a high price.
you hear the term brain drain describing the loss
of Oklahoma college graduates to jobs in other states," explains
Anne Roberts, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Institute for
Child Advocacy (OICA), "however, research on the development
of the human brain tells us that brain drain is a
loss that happens in Oklahoma much earlier than college age. It
happens when we fail to give babies, toddlers and preschoolers
high quality care at home and in child care settings, more than
adequate protection from harm, and the healthiest possible start
early childhood well-being indicators reported in the 2001Oklahoma
KIDS COUNT Factbook, released today by OICA, indicate problems
for Oklahoma infants, toddlers and preschool children.
fact unveiled by Oklahoma KIDS COUNT is that nearly one in three
of Oklahomas children under age five live in poverty. In
seven counties, nearly half of the young children are impoverished.
The Factbook reports that at least one of every five of Oklahomas
two-year-olds have not received the immunizations necessary to
prevent illness, disease, and medical problems. In 1998, nearly
8,000 babies were born to Oklahoma girls who were still in their
teens putting them at greater risk for lifelong developmental
and health problems, poor school performance, poverty, abuse and
neglect, and teenage child bearing themselves. In recent years,
forty percent of Oklahomas child abuse and neglect victims
were under six years of age and forty-five percent of all child
deaths involved children not yet six years of age.
readiness is not childs play," explains Roberts. "There
are serious implications for the future and long term prosperity
of our state, if Oklahoma fails to address these issues effectively,
ensuring that children are healthy, eager to learn and ready to
succeed by the time they begin school."
Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Factbook tracks county-by-county trend
data on seven key indicators of child well being. This years
edition features "A State Focus on Early Childhood Care and
Education," which includes a county ranking on an early childhood
index. The Factbook is designed for use as a planning tool for
future success at both the community and state levels.
Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Partnership is a project of the Oklahoma Institute
for Child Advocacy. To view the 2001 Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Factbook
on-line, go to www.oica.org.
The Factbook is also available at your public library. For more
information or to learn what you can do to help, call 405/236-KIDS.
Seven Key Indicators:
Birthweight Infants Each year nearly thirty-five hundred
Oklahoma babies are born too small; an increasing number (586
average annual) are born very, very tiny at less than 3 pounds,
5 ounces. Low birthweight is largely preventable with adequate
Mortality Each year nearly four hundred babies born
in Oklahoma (389 average annual) do not live to see their first
birthday. Infant death typically results directly from inadequate
early care. Causes of death include poverty, inadequate living
conditions, abuse, neglect, preventable injuries, accidents and
to Young Teens On the average, every three hours an
Oklahoma girl (age 17 or younger) becomes a mother before she
has completed high school. Poor literacy skills, lack of academic
achievement, family dysfunction, and poverty are predictors of
early childbearing. Children born to teen mothers are more likely
to become teen parents, to have lifelong health problems, and
to drop out of school.
Abuse and Neglect Oklahoma maintains record high rates
of child abuse and neglect with more than fifteen thousand (15,518)
confirmed cases of abuse and/or neglect each year. Children of
teen mothers are more than twice as likely to be victims of child
abuse and neglect than children born to mothers age twenty or
and Teen Death
Every week, about nine Oklahoma children and youth from the ages
of 1 through 19. Young, poor and minority children are less likely
to receive lifesaving preventive services. Poor children are three
times as likely to die during their childhood than non-poor children.
School Dropouts In Oklahoma, an annual average of more
than eleven thousand young residents quit school without graduating.
Preventing youth from dropping out of middle or high school begins
before kindergarten. Poor literacy skills can push young people
out of school. There is a relationship between how much a child
has been read to and how well they learn to read. Only half of
infants and toddlers are routinely read to by their parents.
Violent Crime Arrests From 1997 to 1999, more than
a thousand (1,089) Oklahoma youths from the ages of 10 through
17 were arrested each year for committing violent crimes. A national
survey indicates that nine out of ten police chiefs say crime
would be greatly reduced by expanding educational child care programs
and after-school programs. Failure to invest now will result in
paying far more later in crime, welfare and other costs.