Investing in Oklahoma!

                                           June 2016                                                    


From the President

Father's Day Should Be Year-Round!

By: Pat Potts

Last month's newsletter contained an article on all the positive things dads can do to nurture and stimulate their children from infancy. Family Father's Day remembrances brought home for me the critical role dads play in influencing expectations of girls and boys in the kind of person they will become and the kind of mate they will choose later in life. Those of us who grew up in a safe and secure home with parents who protected us were truly blessed!

However a study by UNICEF indicated that some 275 million children worldwide are not so fortunate. They are exposed to violence in the home. Domestic violence causes lifetime damage not just to the spouse who is victimized but also to the children who see, hear or live with the threat.

The younger the child, the greater the negative impact. Their brains are undergoing the most formative times of their lives. Both cognitive and behavioral development can be impaired impacting later ability to interact positively with others, to build trusting relationships and to concentrate and focus. Thus failure to successfully relate to others or learn, impacts their future. And the cycle of dysfunction continues.

Our society seems caught up on a kind of toxic macho violence behavioral pattern. We see violence on TV, in video games, and movies as the way to solve problems. Yet instead of ending troubles, it merely builds more. Peaceful problem solving can be taught - perhaps most effectively by fathers.

In Oklahoma we have more than our share of trauma producing events that add to kids fears for personal safety. The number of child victims of abuse and neglect had increased by 62.2% in 2015 in comparison to the number of victims in 2009.

These 'ACE' adverse childhood experiences impact children's mental health and resilience. Yet Oklahoma is diminishing investment in the parent education and support, educational development, and physical and mental health services that help prevent and overcome such experiences.

That degree of support cannot be replaced by corporate and foundation funding, nonprofit programs and faith based organizations. The gap and need are too great. Still, it behooves each of us to find ways to support evidence-based programs that give our children of promise a chance to realize their potential. We can afford to do no less!
Dates & Data

Thursday, July 7

OKCEO Advisory Meeting

Potts Family Foundation Conference Room
655 Research Parkway
Oklahoma City, OK 73104
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Wednesday, August 17

State of the School Event (OKC Chamber of Commerce)

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73111
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Wednesday, August 17

PFF Board Meeting

655 Research Parkway, Suite 500A
5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Wednesday, October 26

OK Early Childhood Coalition Annual Conference 

The Skirvin Hotel
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73102
10:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.


Wednesday, November 2

Kids Count Conference

University of Central Oklahoma, Nigh University Center
100 N University Dr.
Edmond, OK 73034
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Thursday, November 3

Kids Count Conference

University of Central Oklahoma, Nigh University Center
100 N University Dr.
Edmond, OK 73034
8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
37th: Oklahoma's rank on overall child well-being derived from Economic Well-being, Education, Health, and Family and Community.

Source: 2016 Kids Count Data Book

61: Percent of mothers with children under age 3 who are working today.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015

31: Percent of Oklahoma children under age 3 who are maltreated compared to the national average of 27%.

Source: Zero To Three, Oklahoma State Baby Facts 2015

43: The number of children that died as a result of abuse or neglect in 2013.

Source: Child Welfare League of America, Oklahoma's Children 2015

Infants' Laughter Can Be A Learning Aid

By: Ann Lukits from The Wall Street Journal

Making Infants laugh can help them learn complex skills, a study in Cognitiona and Emotion suggests. The Study found that 94% of infants who laughed at an adult performing a humorous demonstration involving a makeshift tool mastered the action immediately or after a few tries. That compared with 19% of infants who watched the same demonstration but didn't laugh and 25% of controls given a serious demonstration.

Positive emotions, such as laughter, can trigger the release of dopamine and endorphines in the brain, compounds associated with pleasure and mood that can also impact learning, the study suggests. Laughing babies may also have higher social skills that enable them to easily interact with others in different situations, the researchers said.


Too Small To Fail

By: Nicholas Kristof from The New York Times

First, a quiz: What's the most common "vegetable" eaten by toddlers?
Answer: The french fry

The same study that unearthed that nutritional tragedy also found that on any given day, almost half of American toddlers drink soda or similar drinks, possibly putting the children on a trajectory toward obesity or diabetes. 

But for many kids, the problems start even earlier. In West Virginia, one study found, almost one-fifth of children are born with alcohol or drugs in their system. Many thus face an uphill struggle from the day they are born.

Bear all this in mind as Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump battle over taxes, minimum wages and whether to make tuition free at public universities. Those are legitimate debates, but the biggest obstacles and greatest inequality often have roots early in life:

If we want to get more kids in universities, we should invest in preschools.


High Quality Early Learning Settings Depend On A High-Quality Workforce

By: The U.S Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education

Today, in many families across the U.S., both parents are working, and more mothers are working now than a generation ago. This, combined with an increased understanding of the connection between high-quality early education, brain development, and school readiness, have contributed to increased demand for high-quality, affordable child care and other early education programs.

A high quality early education experience depends on a high-quality workforce of early educators. How we value and support those early educators as a nation – through access to higher education, professional development and commensurate compensation – has direct implications on their ability to do their difficult and important job well.


Community Development With Smart Start

By: Margie Marney and Megan Tyler

Smart Start Oklahoma, in partnership with the Potts Family Foundation and the Oklahoma Champions for Early Opportunities (OKCEOs), met at Crossroads Head Start in Shawnee on Wednesday, June 8th to kick off a community-based effort to strengthen partnerships with the business community in Pottawatomie County. Rita Pine, Coordinator for Smart Start Pottawatomie County, will work with local business leaders Chuck Mills of Mills Manufacturing Co. and Dennis Morris with State Farm Insurance agency to spearhead engagement efforts with the business community in Shawnee and surrounding areas to increase awareness of the importance of investing in Oklahoma’s youngest citizens. The effort will seek to encourage businesses to consider supporting OK 25 by 25 in the four focus areas (health and wellness, in-home support visits, high-quality childcare and literacy-numeracy and social emotional development programs) and investing in these local programs aimed at instilling working environments and support for young families with children. For more information or to join the effort, contact Rita Pine at 405.214.4323 or at

Reach Out and Read

By: Amy Emerson from Tulsa Educare

Stethoscopes, syringes, exam table, children’s books.....if it seems like one of these things doesn’t belong, then let me tell you about Reach Out and Read Oklahoma!  Oklahoma currently has about 250 medical providers who are taking advantage of the well-child checkup, as early as birth, to talk to parents about the importance of early literacy, while giving the family a brand new, developmentally appropriate book. As part of the training to become a Reach Out and Read provider, physicians, nurses, office staff and PA’s are learning effective ways to weave the message of how to enjoy books at home into conversations about safety, nutrition and school readiness, while children eagerly point to pictures in the book and demonstrate that even from very young ages, they are ready to learn from those around them.


To read "The Elephant In The Clinic", click here.

25 By 25 Metrics Committee

By: Craig Knutson

An integral part of the 25 By 25 initiative revolves around the importance of metrics and process accountability. We want to be among the top 25 states, by 2025, as it relates to a key metrics. We can’t raise our current rankings until we have a set of metrics that are: meaningful to our demographic; have a history of being collected overtime; are collected annually; can be sourced, including date/time; and can be compared to the other 49 states.

The 25 By 25 Metrics Committee was formed and met in early May. It is comprised of a number of public and non-profits agencies and organizations, including the PFF. The group includes representatives from:  State Agencies (DHS, Health, OHCA, Mental Health), Oklahoma Child Care Resource and Referral Association, Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, OUHSC, OSU, Sunbeam Family Services, Chickasaw Nation, Office of Quality and Accountability, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.


Oklahoma Receives $1.75 Million From The U.S. To Boost Dental Care

By: Paula Burkes from The Oklahoman

The federal government Thursday announced it will award $1.75 milliion to five Oklahoma health centers to serve more patients and expand integrated oral health care services.
Award recipients include Oklahoma City's Variety Care Inc.; Morton Comprehensive Health Services Inc. in Tulsa; Caring Hands Healthcare Centers Inc. in McAlester; Fairfax Medical Facilities Inc. and Stigler Health & Wellness Center Inc. Each will receive $350,000.


Terry Smith Leaves Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy

By: Margie Marney

We wanted to let our followers know that one of PFF’s and OKCEO’s major working partner leaders, Terry Smith CEO with OICA, will be leaving this position. The Board of Directors of OICA respectfully announced that Wednesday June 30th will be CEO Terry Smith's last day with the Institute.
During his time with OICA Terry has helped strengthen and solidify OICA as a leading organization for child welfare and advocacy in Oklahoma. We appreciate his partnership with PFF and OKCEOs as a member of the OKCEO Advisory Committee and his contributions of information to the PFF Board and as an advocate for Oklahoma children and families with the OKCEOs.  We are encouraged that he will still be working for the children of Oklahoma in his new capacity as Deputy Director of the Office of Juvenile Affairs. We wish you the best in all your future endeavors Terry!

"Inside The Brain" Summary

By: Craig Knutson

From the introduction of Inside the Brain, by Ronald Kotulak:  “When it comes to building the human brain, nature supplies the construction materials and nurture serves as the architect that puts them together. The recent discovery that early childhood experiences physically shape the infant brain – thereby determining its calculating powers and emotional equilibrium – is profoundly changing the way we think about the intellectual needs of children.”  



Numeracy in Early Childhood:
More Than Just Counting To Ten

By: Paula Gates from Sunbeam Family Services

Many parents can remember fondly that proud moment when their two year old recited their numbers “1-10” to their grandparents or that anxious moment on a kindergarten assessment meeting when the teacher asks the child to count as high as they can.

Much of our understanding about math and young children revolves around simple number recital. However, it is a more accurate picture if you ask the two year old the difference between a 3 and a 7, or if you ask the Pre-K child which is more, 20 or 40? The concept of math, or numeracy is so much more than a string of random symbols put together!


Oklahoma's Ranking For Well-Being of Children Improves, Report Finds

By: Mike Averull from Tulsa World

Oklahoma moved up two spots in an annual national report that ranks states on child well-being. The state ranks 37th in the 2016 Kids Count Data Book released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. That's an improvement from 39th the last two years and a change from 36th and 40th the years prior. The rankings are based on 16 indicators in four domains: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.

"I think we've known that these numbers are heading in that direction. We've been making progress, even in challenging times," said Terry Smith, CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. "There has been a lot of work done that has made a difference."



Oklahoma Business Roundtable and Potts Family Foundation

By: Craig Knutson

The Oklahoma Business Roundtable and the Potts Family Foundation developed a solid early childhood development (ECD) relationship over five years ago as two of three founders of the Oklahoma Champions for Early Opportunities, or OKCEOs. The other founding member is Smart Start Oklahoma. The OKCEOs are comprised of business and civic leaders, primarily from the private sector, who recognize that early childhood development is a significant economic, social, and workforce issue.  There are seven members of OBR who are currently members of the OKCEOs; there is no cap to the number we would accept.

Watch the Video

 No Fadeout. Lasting Effects.

Click on the picture above to open the video  "No Fadeout. Lasting Effects." from The Heckman Equation.

Their video highlights the benefits to children who receive high quality early childhood education, and refutes critics’ claims that gains fadeout. The vast body of research shows that high quality early childhood education has lasting effects for disadvantaged children. Children arrive at school ready to learn and build upon early skills development.

Family Friendly Business Practices (FFBP)

By: Linda Turner

Often times when talking about Family Friendly Business Practices to business leaders, the first thought in people’s minds is “Flex-Hours”.   And for a lot of companies, the thought of allowing Flex Hours in the workplace is somewhat impractical and unfavorable for the financial success. 

There is more to FFBP than just Flex Hours, much, much more. Because the window of opportunity to make a big change in a child’s life is so small, the first five years, we all should be working on figuring out ways to make the most of that opportunity. Being a CEO of an organization puts that person in a place to make a true difference in helping employees understand that those first five years cannot be recaptured, and must be considered the most precious time in the development of the child’s future.

Copyright © 2016 Potts Family Foundation, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
655 Research Parkway
Suite 500A
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104
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