Oklahoma drops in a new report about how states care for children. The report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation says Oklahoma took one of the biggest dives in child well-being of any state in the country.
The Kids Count Data Book says Oklahoma dropped from 36th place to 39th in the latest research released by the foundation.
"We're close to being in the bottom ten for outcomes for children," said Terry Smith the president and CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, "the numbers are not good, many areas are getting worse."
The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, or OICA, receives some of its funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and works to promote policies and programs for children in the state. Smith says one of the issues that contributed to Oklahoma's decline is poverty.
"Poverty is an incredible issue in Oklahoma right now the new data shows that one in four children in the state of Oklahoma lives in poverty," Smith told Fox 25.
The report showed Oklahoma did make small improvements which included a reduction in births to teenagers, a slight increase in reading and math proficiency as well as a reduced child and teen death rate.
Those small gains were not enough to drop Oklahoma's overall ranking. Smith says not focusing on the needs of at-risk children lead to higher costs later on in for the form of need of other social services and even higher incarceration rates.
"There's a lot more kids that are being removed from their homes right now for child abuse and neglect, many of those kids then go into the juvenile justice system," Smith said.??