An increasing number of single parents are raising children in Oklahoma, and the percentage of single fathers in the state grew 40 percent, the Oklahoman reports.

The news source found that more than 168,600 single-parents raise children in the state, an increase of 19 percent over the last 10 years. While still less common than single-mother families, single-father households grew 40 percent to 45,934.

Linda Terrell, executive director of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, told the publication that single parents, whether male or female, often struggle to make ends meet financially which can limit their children’s opportunities. However, communities can reach out to single-parent neighbors and friends to help give the kids a chance.

“I strongly believe that having as many caring adults in the life of a child on a regular basis is critical for everything from early brain development, to socialization, to emotional skill development, to learning how to be in relations with others,” she said.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an organization that helps vulnerable children and families, 34 percent of American children lived in single-parent homes in 2009. In Oklahoma, that statistic was 35 percent. The state with the lowest rate of single-parent families was Utah with 18 percent, while Mississippi had the highest rate, at 48 percent.

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