Oklahoma City -- Governor Frank Keating Wednesday praised workers of daycare centers and the state Department of Human Services after a national magazine lauded Oklahoma for ensuring top-quality child care. Working Mother magazine, in its eighth annual assessment of child care available throughout the nation, recently recognized Oklahoma as one of six states that is "making a difference" for its commitment to daycare.
"On behalf of all Oklahomans, I am proud of the success our state is having in making life better for our children and working parents," the Governor said. "This honor bestowed by Working Mother magazine is a testament to the hard work and ingenuity of many people, especially those in the Child Care Division of DHS and the child care workers throughout our state. There is nothing more vital to a successful society than the proper care of our youngest members. Children need and deserve the best possible care. Our working parents need and deserve affordable child care, as well as the peace of mind knowing that their kids are safe and sound." Working Mother magazine gave particular credit to DHS' "Reaching for the Stars" program, which boosts state reimbursement rates to daycare centers that upgrade facilities and strengthen the quality of care. Under the strategy, centers also are subject to a rating system from one to three stars. "As Working Mother magazine correctly noted, Oklahoma is reaping dividends through the excellence and professionalism of those who are entrusted with taking care of our children," Keating said. DHS Director Howard Hendrick added that the agency has a number of partners in its effort to improve child care, including, Head Start, the United Way's "Success by Six" Program and the state Departments of Education and Health.
"We now recognize that brain development is not just genetics. It occurs when very young infants and toddlers have positive stimulating experiences, quality nutrition and secure caregiver relationships," Hendrick said. "We appreciate more than ever how critical it is to transform the child care industry from a traditional care-taking industry to a developmentally appropriate, academically stimulating professional service. The exciting part is the future. Young children -- especially children in poverty -- desperately need the quality that our 'Reaching for the Stars' tiered reimbursement program is developing." Other states identified for excellence in child care include California, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina and Rhode Island. More information on Working Mother's 2000 Child Care survey is available in the publication's current issue and on its web site.