KIDS COUNT 2021: Oklahoma remains in bottom 10 for child well-being

Oklahoma children remain in the nation’s bottom 10 when it comes to major health and well-being indicators, according to the 2021 edition of the KIDS COUNT® Data Book published annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  

Oklahoma ranks 42nd overall for child well-being, with its individual rankings on major categories and change from last year are: 

  • 33rd in economic well-being, the same as in 2020,
  • 41st in family and community context, down one spot from the previous report, 
  • 45th in education, up three spots from last year, and
  • 42nd in health, up seven places from the 2020 report.



The 2021 KIDS COUNT Data Book — the most comprehensive annual report on child well-being in the United States — is based on the latest available data for 16 key indicators that include health, education, economic well-being, and family and community. For the 2021 report, those data are from 2019, so they do not reflect current conditions amidst the COVID-19 crisis. (A December 2020 special KIDS COUNT report provided a snapshot of issues of concern related to the pandemic.)

The release of this year’s report also coincides with the federal government launching a new website and other resources for parents and caregivers eligible for an expanded child tax credit, which will provide critical financial support for families who are struggling to make ends meet and help reduce long-standing disparities that affect families of color.

The Data Book is published annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to assess child well-being. The KIDS COUNT data and rankings, which represent the most recent information available but do not capture the impact of the past year, showed Oklahoma had significant concerns in each of the major categories:

  • ECONOMIC WELL BEING: In 2019, 1 in 5 Oklahoma children (186,000, or 20 percent) were living in households with an income below the poverty line.
  • EDUCATION: In 2019, 59,000, or about 57 percent, of Oklahoma’s young children ages 3 and 4 were not in school. 
  • AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE: In 2019, 86,000 Oklahoma children — nearly 1 in 10 — did not have health insurance. 
  • FAMILY AND COMMUNITY CONTEXT: In 2019, 95,000 Oklahoma children lived in high-poverty areas. 

“In examining the latest KIDS COUNT report, we can see places where Oklahoma has made some small progress toward child well-being, but on balance, those gains aren’t enough to catch up with the smart investments other states are making to positively influence their children’s well-being,” said Gabrielle Jacobi, OK Policy’s Child Well-Being Policy Analyst and KIDS COUNT Coordinator.

The Data Book shows simply returning to a pre-pandemic level of support for children and families would shortchange millions of kids and fail to address persistent racial and ethnic disparities.

The Oklahoma Policy Institute, which has been the state’s host agency for the KIDS COUNT project since 2018, previously has outlined several policy recommendations that can help address Oklahoma’s rankings:

OK Policy also published today an analysis of smart policy decisions that could help address Oklahoma’s dismal child well-being outcomes.   

Release Information 

The 2021 KIDS COUNT® Data Book was made available at June 21 at 12:01 a.m. EDT at Additional information is available at Journalists interested in creating maps, graphs and rankings in stories about the Data Book can use the KIDS COUNT Data Center at    

About OK Policy

Oklahoma Policy Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit organization focused on advancing equitable and fiscally responsible policies that expand opportunity for all Oklahomans through non-partisan research, analysis, and advocacy. Based in Tulsa, the organization was founded in 2008 as a think tank to provide independent, data-driven policy analysis for use in shaping policies that improved the lives for all Oklahomans.                                                                

About the Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.


David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.