Press Release
Facts at a Glance
Everyday in Oklahoma Partners
Kids Count Leadership
About OICA
Overview and Findings
Economic Clusters
State Benchmarks
County Benchmarks
Download Factbook

Copyright 2004

Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy
420 N.W. 13th Street
Suite 101
Oklahoma City 73103
Phone: 405-236-5437
Fax: 405-236-5439

More online information about children at-risk


Overview and Findings


There are over half a million (529,773) Oklahomans over age 14 and under age 25. This decade in a young person’s life can be the best. Becoming an adult is exciting. It is a time of change. Dreams become reality. Dependency turns into responsibility. Anxiety is transformed into confidence. Most Oklahoma youth successfully navigate their road to independence — graduating, finding employment, beginning careers and families. These youth benefit from the solid support and guidance of family, friends and communities. Their education and experience provide the foundation upon which they build their future and Oklahoma’s future.

There are other young people in Oklahoma who, through little fault of their own, face their futures with fear and frustration. Too many of these young Oklahomans live in poverty. Some are neither in school nor employed. Many live out their teenage years away from their own family. Some become parents themselves, too young, too soon. Others spiral into misuse of alcohol and drugs, mired in addiction or in trouble with the law or both. Some die.

Their problems are serious. It should be no mystery these youth have difficulties. They have been seriously harmed and have rarely been given a chance for success. Emerging solutions are encouraging. Key is supporting the individual assets of each young person. Here family matters much. School and community become vital. Programs which develop youth assets, combined with those that reduce risk-taking behaviors, offer the promise that Oklahoma’s youth will successfully grow to be productive adults.

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. From an established baseline, this ninth Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Factbook tracks progress, or the lack of progress, over time for low birthweight infants, infant mortality, births to young teens, child abuse & neglect, child death, and juvenile violent crime arrests. Changes in state data collection methods currently prevent comparisons over time for high school dropouts.

There is good news. The 2004 Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Factbook documents that four benchmarks improved over the comparable data from the middle of the 1980’s.

There is bad news. Two of the seven benchmarks tracked worsened when compared to data from the middle of the 1980’s.

The improved rates obscure the challenges faced by large numbers of young Oklahomans each year. One in every five (19.6%) Oklahoma children lives in poverty. Each year, more than thirteen thousand (13,253) children are abused or neglected and sixty-five hundred (6,528) youth quit high school. Each year, more than twenty-three hundred (2,343) girls ages 15 through 17 become mothers and almost four hundred (394) babies do not live to see their first birthday. Each year, one thousand (1,001) children and youth are arrested for murder, rape, aggravated assault or robbery.

This information, along with graphics, is available for download in pdf format.