Upcoming Event: A chance to learn more about young children in Oklahoma and help set the agenda

The following post by Paul Shinn originally appeared on The Tulsa Initiative Blog. The Tulsa Initiative is a project of Community Action Project and its partners to undertake research, planning, and coordination of pilot programs to support the delivery of state-of-the-art services to low-income children and families in Tulsa.

As Oklahoma’s Early Childhood Advisory Council, Smart Start Oklahoma is charged with making recommendations to Governor Mary Fallin on actions we can take at the state level to better support young children. Interested members of the public will get their chance to review and comment on the recommendations at a forum on August 18 in Oklahoma City. This opportunity comes in the context of a day-long, free conference where participants will learn more about funding early childhood programs and the impact of those programs on children and the state’s economy.

Smart Start is a public-private partnership led by a board of representatives of state agencies, advocates for young children, funders, and local Smart Start affiliates. Recommendations to the Governor are created by Smart Start’s working groups and then reviewed by a coordinating group. After public review and comment, recommendations will be approved by the board and forwarded to the Governor. Recommendations currently under consideration include:

  •  supporting development of a longitudinal data system to help track young children’s education, health, and supports and to connect data about early experiences with school and other outcomes as children grow,
  • supporting improvements in the state’s quality rating system, which helps parents identify quality early childhood education providers, and
  • reaffirming Smart Start’s role in leading the process of setting standards for school readiness.

Specific wording of these and other recommendations will be available in early August on Smart Start’s website.

The hearing on recommendations will conclude the first annual Smart Start “Champions for Children” conference. This conference will bring together funders, advocates, and providers of services to young children to learn more from Lisa Klein, Executive Director of the Birth to Five Policy Alliance, as well as state business, legislative, and executive leaders. Here’s the conference agenda and information on registration, which is free, but space is limited. Registration is due by July 31. If you’re interested in commenting but cannot attend the conference, send written comments to patrick.brown@smartstartok.org by August 12.

Oklahoma is fortunate to have a strong network of early childhood service providers, funders, and advocates. The Champions for Children conference will help connect interested Oklahomans with these great resources and will help elevate the needs of young children on Governor Fallin’s–and the state’s–agenda.


Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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