The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

May 13, 2014

Target demo: Teen moms

ENID, Okla. — One out of eight babies born in Garfield County during 2012 had a teen mother.

Jan Figart, associate director of Community Services Council of Greater Tulsa, gave Metropolitan Human Services Commission a sobering report Tuesday afternoon when she presented the 2014 Community Profile commissioned by Smart Start Northwest Oklahoma at The Non-Profit Center.

“If you’re looking for a targeted place to spend money, look at teen mothers,” Figart told commission members.

Although the number of teen births is lower than in the past, the sheer number remains an issue, Figart said.

Of the 949 babies born in Garfield County during 2012, 44.2 percent had an unmarried mother, 23.5 percent had a mother who did not complete high school and 36.8 percent were born less than two years after the mother’s previous birth. The risks of complications for both baby and mother increase when birth spacing is fewer than two years, Figart said.

Oklahoma ranks 36th among the 50 states when it comes to child well-being, Figart said.

“I have to remind you, we do live in Oklahoma,” Figart said. “You have to remember we vie for the bottom.”

She said Garfield County is faring well “in a very bad state,” but the people who will make up the 2020 work force “need a lot.”

However, Figart’s report had bright spots. More than 74 percent of Garfield County 4-year-olds have access to a pre-kindergarten program, and most have all-day service.

Jon Blankenship, president of Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce, was one of the commission members who sat in on Figart’s presentation.

“I do think it’s important to increase awareness of poverty rates and issues like infant mortality and teen birth rates, and they have an impact on quality of life,” Blankenship said. “The fact that Oklahoma and Garfield County don’t rate favorably in many of those areas speaks to the importance of early childhood development. We’ve got to increase resources and our service capabilities for early childhood development.

“Just as we heard at the meeting, it’s important to have a plan for now and a plan for the future. Those are going to require support from social services agencies and the business community to make headway in the community.”

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