Oklahoma Policy Institute selected as Oklahoma’s New KIDS COUNT Grantee

Already a respected, independent source for state policy information, Oklahoma Policy Institute will utilize the KIDS COUNT grant to expand its work for the well-being of children and families.

TULSA — Oklahoma Policy Institute (OK Policy), as of July 1, 2018, will be the new host agency in Oklahoma for KIDS COUNT, a 29-year-old project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and a premier national source of data on children and families.

KIDS COUNT seeks to provide state legislators, public officials, and child advocates with the reliable data, policy recommendations, and tools needed to advance sound policies that benefit children and families — and to raise the visibility of children’s issues through a nonpartisan, evidence-based lens. Each year, the Foundation produces a comprehensive report — the KIDS COUNT Data Book — that assesses child well-being in the United States. The indicators featured in the Data Book are also available in the Data Center.

“OK Policy is honored to be selected by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to serve as the grantee for the Oklahoma KIDS COUNT project,” said David Blatt, Executive Director of OK Policy. “We look forward to building on the KIDS COUNT work that was done in previous years by the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA). This grant provides OK Policy an opportunity to deepen our partnerships with OICA and others advocating for data-driven solutions that strengthen Oklahoma’s children and families.”

OICA has pivoted in recent years to working directly with legislators on policy-oriented projects and on service initiatives like OK Foster Wishes, a holiday gift drive for foster children. OICA CEO Joe Dorman said the KIDS COUNT Data Book would still be an important resource for the organization and others like it.

“The KIDS COUNT Data Book provides an invaluable snapshot of child well-being indicators for policy-makers, journalists, and child advocacy organizations like our own,” said Dorman. “We appreciate OK Policy’s partnership and the great work they continue to do on behalf of Oklahoma’s children.”

Oklahoma Policy Institute has existed as an independent organization for the last ten years. The organization promotes adequate, fair, and fiscally responsible funding of public services and expanded opportunity for all Oklahomans through data-driven research and advocacy.

“We ask our 50 states and three territorial KIDS COUNT partners to use reliable data, coupled with stories and effective communications, to advance a policy advocacy agenda that will contribute to the well-being of children and families in their jurisdiction,” said Dennis J. Campa, Associate Director, State Policy Reform and Advocacy at The Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Based on Oklahoma’s Policy Institute’s stellar data analysis, policy advocacy reputation, and community engagement track record, we are pleased to welcome them to the KIDS COUNT network.”

Next Wednesday, Oklahoma Policy Institute and Annie E. Casey Foundation will release the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book with the latest information on child well-being in Oklahoma and nationally.

“We’ll soon reach out to advocates for children and families across Oklahoma to identify important priorities for the coming year,” said Gene Perry, OK Policy’s Director of Strategy and Communications and the coordinator of Oklahoma’s KIDS COUNT project. “We’ll work to combine the best research and data with on-the-ground knowledge of what Oklahoma children and families need most.”

One priority in 2019 will be to address an expected undercount in the upcoming 2020 census, which could harm research and advocacy efforts for years to come. An accurate count in the 2020 census is essential to identify and analyze problems, document disparities, develop policy solutions, and evaluate the efficacy of programs.

“To prioritize children, Oklahoma needs good data that show’s what really happening,” said Perry. “An accurate census is the essential source for much of that data. A census undercount also could mean the loss of billions of dollars in federal funds for Oklahoma.”


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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