OKFutures: Oklahoma’s Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five

small child watering a plant

High-quality early childhood care and education (ECCE) supports children’s growth and development, families’ ability to work, and the future health of society. Oklahoma is a national leader in ECCE. In December 2018, Oklahoma received a federal Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) to support strategic planning and facilitate collaboration among ECCE programs. (See more about this grant below.) Oklahoma has used grant funds to launch activities through an effort known as OKFutures. OKFutures is illuminating and addressing unmet need across the early childhood mixed-delivery system, especially for vulnerable and underserved children and families. Governor Mary Fallin designated the Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness (OPSR) to lead this effort.

OPSR contracted with the Urban Institute to provide evaluation and technical supports for OKFutures. Along with state agencies, research partners, advisers, and others, Urban is leading a needs assessment and strategic plan.

What is Urban’s role?

  • Urban is identifying unmet need in Oklahoma. The Urban Institute is engaging stakeholders to define and articulate unmet need. The OKFutures needs assessment provides a comprehensive understanding of the mixed-delivery ECCE system in Oklahoma, as well as the health and family support programs that serve children from birth to age 5 and their families. The needs assessment estimates the system’s capacity, utilization, and gaps. For example, using administrative and census-type data, the assessment estimates the number and characteristics of children from birth to age 5 in the state, the characteristics of those who participate in the system, and the number of children awaiting service. Family and workforce perspectives on choice, access, and participation supplement these analyses. In all, the assessment illuminates opportunities where additional policy development, alignment, and funding can help meet demand and ensure equitable access to high-quality ECCE.
  • Urban is supporting the development of a statewide strategic plan. To help Oklahoma address unmet need, Urban is facilitating a five-year OKFutures strategic plan. This plan articulates the aim of building the capacity of families, communities, and public and private agencies to provide children equitable access to the physical, emotional, and educational supports they need to thrive. Data from focus groups, community conversations and data walks, and interviews with key stakeholders inform the strategic plan. In partnership with OPSR and other state collaborators, Urban is engaging in an iterative process to formulate strategic goals and objectives and strengthen their implications for a focused, actionable, and sustainable strategic plan.

Urban’s work will extend throughout the OKFutures grant. Urban is charged with developing the needs assessment and strategic plan documents, disseminating findings, and supporting current and future PDG B-5 activities.

About the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five

The ultimate goal of the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) Competition is:

to fund states to conduct a comprehensive statewide birth through five needs assessment followed by in-depth strategic planning, while enhancing parent choice and expanding the current mixed delivery system consisting of a wide range of provider types and settings, including child care centers and home-based child care providers, Head Start and Early Head Start, state pre-kindergarten, and home visiting service providers across the public, private and faith-based sectors.

PDG B-5 grants are authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the comprehensive federal education legislation focused on expanding opportunity through data collection, high academic standards, and public investment. ESSA’s inclusion of PDG B-5 built on previous federal supports for preschool expansion and turned a historic focus on early childhood programs. In 2018, the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families awarded PDG B-5 grants to improve early childhood systems in 46 states and territories, including Oklahoma.