in Oklahoma PDF
at a Glance Overview
& Findings Partners
for Child Advocacy, Inc. 420
N.W. 13th Street Suite
City 73103 Phone:
405-236-KIDS (5437) Fax:
405-236-KIDX (5439) www.oica.org
online information related to children at-risk
child deserves a good start, a childhood free from the hardships
of poverty and a future brimming with hope. Growing up in a supportive,
economically stable family gives each child his or her best chance.
2002 edition of the Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Factbook focuses on welfare
reform. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation
Act of 1996, was an ambitious federal effort to influence the most
basic and complex human behaviors — work, childbearing, marriage
— and provide each child that supportive, economically stable
family. The 1996 welfare reform became a watershed event for children
living in poverty. It redirected policy and funding, and changed
the terms of their lives. The 2002 Factbook begins the assessment
of whether Oklahoma children are benefitting or suffering from welfare
It is time to take
measure. During the
summer of 2002, welfare reform is again being debated and amended.
Soon after, Oklahoma will again restrict or enhance its local welfare-to-work
program to accommodate the resulting mix of federal mandates and take
advantage of whatever flexibility states are allowed to exert.
Oklahoma families raise and nurture Oklahoma’s children. As
families suffer or prosper, children will suffer or prosper. The
health of the economy and the result of the next round of welfare
reform will combine to determine which outcome is more likely. The
first round of welfare reform found its successes fueled by a boom
economy; Oklahoma may not be so lucky next time. Regardless of public
perceptions about welfare, if the resulting welfare system fails
its recipients, it will fail their children. If the cycle remains
unbroken, Oklahoma’s future dims.
The Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Partnership, a project of the Oklahoma Institute
for Child Advocacy (OICA), uses key strategies to achieve its goal.
First, KIDS COUNT “counts kids,” providing accurate
and up-to-date data on the status of Oklahoma’s children and
youth. Second, KIDS COUNT cultivates leadership on behalf of children
and youth, giving voice to their needs at the local level. Third,
KIDS COUNT communicates the needs of children and youth, using extensive
public awareness activities.
The Oklahoma KIDS COUNT
Factbook uses benchmarks to profile the status of children and youth
in our state. Benchmarks are quantifiable measures that, when taken
together, help determine child, family and community well-being.
The seven benchmarks in the 2002 KIDS COUNT Factbook are low
birthweight infants, infant mortality, births to young teens, child
abuse & neglect, child death, high school dropouts and
juvenile violent crime arrests.
From an established baseline, this seventh Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Factbook
continues to track progress, or the lack of progress, for each benchmark
over time. Progress requires action. Progress requires using all
of this information — and more — to make good decisions
about state and community budgets and programs that affect children
and youth. Effective programs and policies work together with strong
communities and families to improve the benchmarks.
Almost nine hundred thousand (892,360) Oklahomans — one in
every four (25.9%) — are children. Last year’s Oklahoma
KIDS COUNT Factbook (2001) shared the good news that only two (low
birthweight infants and child abuse & neglect) of the seven
benchmarks tracked worsened when compared to data from a dozen years
ago. Most young people in Oklahoma were doing well most of the time.
Good news continues.
The 2002 Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Factbook again reveals that only two
of the seven benchmarks tracked worsened when compared to data from
the middle of the 1980’s:
• Low birthweight
• Child abuse & neglect
Five benchmarks again improved over the comparable older data:
• Infant mortality
• Births to young teens
• Child deaths
• High school dropouts
• Juvenile violent crime arrests
Bad news remains.
The improved rates obscure the challenges faced by large numbers
of young Oklahomans each year. One in every five (19.1%) Oklahoma
children lives in poverty. Each year, almost sixteen thousand (15,733)
children are abused or neglected. Each year, almost ten thousand
(9,406) youth quit high school. Each year, more than one thousand
(1,035) children and youth are arrested for murder, rape, aggravated
assault or robbery.
Number of children
25.9% of the state population.
Rate (2000): 19.1%
PDF File with this narrative and a chart on the seven benchmarks.