Job Growth is Faster than Child Care Growth ...
OKLAHOMA CAPITOL -- Governor Frank Keating declared April 9-15 as the Week of the Young Child in Oklahoma. In his proclamation, Governor Keating said, "The future of our state depends on the quality of the early childhood experiences provided to young children today. High quality early childhood services represent a worthy commitment to our children’s future."
Oklahoma Department of Human Services State Director Howard Hendrick said, "Though this is a time to celebrate the valuable treasures represented by each young life, we are faced with the challenge of thousands of infants, toddlers and their families who are in need of quality licensed child care.
"Young families in Oklahoma are not able to gain access to quality childcare services for their infants and toddlers. We have a shortage of licensed infant and toddler childcare. Young families face a strain on their time, marriage and budget because of their inability to find affordable, licensed infant and toddler childcare."
OKDHS subsidizes childcare for more than 28,000 children younger than age 6 each month. But only 8 percent of these slots are for infant care and 20 percent are for children younger than age 3. Because of this shortage, 82 percent of families on childcare waiting lists have children younger than age 2.
Last year the statewide Child Care Resource and Referral Service logged more than 14,000 calls from parents. Of these calls, more than 90 percent requested childcare for infants and toddlers from birth to age 3.
Though the criteria set by the OKDHS Division of Child Care’s Reach for the Stars program have improved the quantity and quality of childcare in Oklahoma, Oklahoma’s job growth has increased at a faster pace. This has resulted in a childcare service gap. The Census Bureau projects there will be nearly 45,000 children in Oklahoma younger than age 1 by the end of the year. Currently, there are licensed childcare services available for approximately 10,000 children younger than age 1.
If you or someone you know is currently a licensed childcare provider for older children or is interested in becoming a childcare provider for infants and toddlers, call the Division of Child Care toll free at 1-800-347-2276. Or, log onto the OKDHS Division of Child Care website at www.okdhs.org/childcare.