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Early Learning Matters

Oklahoma Child Care Association and Sunbeam Family Services

Date Submitted: 04/2022

Contact Information:

Board Member/Secretary – Oklahoma Child Care Association

Rachel Proper


Oklahoma Child Care Association, 3632 NW 51st Street, OKC, OK 73112

Rating Category: Best Practice

Focus Area: Child Development

Focus Population: Children, Teachers, Owners, Caregivers

Goals and Outcomes: The purpose of this submission is to provide a high quality, research -based curriculum for early childhood providers in Oklahoma at little to no cost. Obtaining a research-based curriculum is difficult for many providers. Cost for quality curriculum is the primary barrier, followed by low access to technical support and training. Traditionally high turnover for staff also creates a barrier and disrupts implementation, which can lead to further costs. Most childcare providers resort to “home-grown” or “self-developed” lesson plans and curriculum. These lesson plans tend to draw from the knowledge and expertise of the provider but are not gauged on their impact or effectiveness.

The ELM curriculum provides a solution to many of these challenges by providing the curriculum at no cost to the provider (yes…it is free!) along with the resource guides and training components needed to support implementation. The Oklahoma Child Care Association (OCCA) and Sunbeam Family Services, with support from Purdue University Department of Human Development and Family Studies, will promote the ELM curriculum to early childhood providers in Oklahoma and support implementation of the curriculum to any provider who would like to use ELM in their program. Included within the ELM Curriculum are classroom resources, family engagement resources, staff training resources and observations tools.

Brief Summary:

The Early Learning Matters Curriculum, or ELM, is a comprehensive, evidence-informed program that supports optimal learning and development of children from birth to five years of age. The curriculum promotes skills linked to school readiness and life success with developmentally appropriate teaching strategies and a coordinated mix of staff-guided and child-initiated learning experiences.

ELM was developed by a team of early childhood experts, led by Distinguished Professor Douglas Powell, at Purdue University’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies. ELM was created for the Department of Defense Child Development Program, as part of the DoD-USDA Partnership for Military Families.

The ELM Curriculum is available for use by any program of early care and education. The curriculum is available free of charge at

There are many curriculum products on the market for early childhood, most of which are research-based. Unfortunately, many of them also come at a high price. Price to purchase curriculum, as well as costs for training and materials can be prohibitive. While there is not any data to show how many providers are using research-based curricula, it is well-known throughout the industry, that most providers use a self-developed or home-grown curriculum.

ELM solves this issue by providing a research-based curriculum that can be accessed by anyone, is easy to follow and needs little to support and implement being that the materials needed to support the activity plans are already present in a typical early childhood classroom.

We gathered the following testimonials from childcare providers that show that having a research-based curriculum is a challenge for providers in many parts of the State.

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