OVERVIEW

Decades of research is clear: children learn from their first days. The amount, type, quality and consistency of a child’s early learning experiences dramatically impact and influence a child’s potential for future academic success and social-emotional well-being.

Tulsa, like most communities, does not offer enough high-quality early education for the number of low-income children who need it. GKFF supports 16 high-quality early learning centers in Tulsa, serving approximately 2,000 children in year-round education and care, as well as a range of other home-based and community-based programs.

The human brain has a remarkable capacity for change, but timing is crucial. From birth to three, there exists a critical and specific window of opportunity during which a child is most receptive to learning. In fact, a majority of a child’s brain formation occurs by age three, yet less than four percent of public expenditure for education is allocated to that time period.

Access to high-quality, comprehensive early childhood opportunities for at‐risk children, starting at birth, can help improve their long‐term student proficiency in reading and math. These early education opportunities help build the foundation for low-income children to perform as well as their peers when they enter kindergarten.

The majority of a baby’s brain is formed by age three.

Studies show that children enrolled in early childhood programs demonstrate improved math and language scores and enhanced cognitive and social skills.

PURPOSE

Research shows that low-income children gain a dramatically greater opportunity for emotional, social, financial and cognitive success if they are provided intensive educational opportunity at a very early age.

PROJECTS

GKFF supports a wide range of programs focused on very young children living in poverty in order to ensure more children in Tulsa enjoy positive early childhood experiences and have a better chance of school success.

Tulsa Educare

In response to community demand for high-quality early childhood education programming, GKFF helped establish Tulsa Educare in 2006. With three centers in distinct low-income neighborhoods, and a fourth in development, Tulsa Educare currently serves more than 500 children in year-round care. The program requires highly trained, degreed teaching staff, low child­-to-staff ratios and a rich complement of wraparound services including health, mental health, nutrition and family engagement, all of which are rigorously evaluated.

Early Childhood Institute at the University of Oklahoma

The Early Childhood Education Institute (ECEI) at OU-Tulsa strives to advance and support early childhood programming and policies by generating, disseminating and applying meaningful research. The growing research institute focuses on young children in early childhood programs. For the past eight years ECEI has conducted a variety of program evaluation projects, worked with many state and national partners, and impacted policy and programming decisions.

EARLY CHILDHOOD FEATURES