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Bridging Health Care and Early Education System Transformations to Achieve Kindergarten Readiness in Oregon

BUILD Oregon NASHP Brief CoverOregon has taken significant steps to transform its health care and early education systems. Recognizing that good health is a key component of ensuring children enter school ready to succeed, Oregon is now aligning the two systems with the ultimate goal of improving kindergarten readiness. This report, supported by the Build Initiative, describes Oregon’s approach to aligning its two innovative system transformations and highlights key strategies ­– including joint staffing, blended funding, and shared expectations – to elucidate lessons for policy makers seeking to bridge health care and early education.

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Governor’s 2015-2017 Investment Strategy Prioritizes Critical Kindergarten Readiness and Third Grade Reading Benchmarks

CI-logo-for-newsAt the Children’s Institute, we now have one more reason to be hopeful about 2015: the Governor’s 2015-2017 investment strategy allocates $135 million for early learning, with an additional $400 million for full day kindergarten and a third grade reading initiative. Announced at the Oregon Education Investment Board meeting on November 11 and still pending finalization and legislative approval, the Governor’s proposed investments includes the following:

  • $10 million for Home Visiting
  • $15 million for Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education
  • $55 million for Employment Related Daycare
  • $30 million for preschool open to a range of providers and settings
  • $20 million for Early Learning Hubs
  • $5 million for Kindergarten Partnership & Innovation Fund
  • $220 million to implement and operate full-day kindergarten
  • $180 million for PreK-3 literacy initiative

There’s a lot to be excited about with these potential increased investments. Given legislative approval, we are hopeful the Kindergarten Partnership & Innovation Fund will continue to help more communities to connect the early years to the early grades. We also applaud Governor Kitzhaber and his staff for proposing new investments in home visiting and preschool, for working towards the creation of a coordinated early learning system across these investments, and for specifically targeting approaches to increase equity across the budget.

At the Children’s Institute, we know that all of these are critical steps as Oregon works towards closing the achievement gap and helping all children to arrive at kindergarten ready to learn and to go on and achieve success in school, and in life.

Heather Murphy joins Children's Institute

Heather-MurphyHeather Murphy joins the Children’s Institute as its Early Works Site Liaison for Yoncalla and Rural Policy Advisor.

She has spent the past 14 years as the Executive Director of the Family Relief Nursery in Cottage Grove, which provides comprehensive family support services for families experiencing numerous stresses linked to abuse and neglect.

Murphy grew up in North Douglas County where the Yoncalla Early Works demonstration site is located and brings a deep understanding and commitment to issues affecting children and families in rural areas to her new position at the Children’s Institute.

“I have admired the work of the Children’s Institute for several years. They bring the proper partners to the table to tackle important issues affecting Oregon’s children,” says Murphy. “I am excited to provide a rural connection to this dynamic team. The projects that are happening in North Douglas County carry significance for so many rural communities that are struggling with similar issues. It is inspiring to witness citizens mobilizing around these efforts to provide opportunities for their children.”

“Heather is bringing an extraordinary level of passion and skill to the Children’s Institute,” says CI Director of Policy and Program Dana Hepper. “She will help us immeasurably in our goals for Yoncalla, and in our ambition to understand and serve all Oregon’s rural communities, families and children.”

Murphy is a City Councilor for the City of Cottage Grove and currently serves as Council President. She has served on numerous committees at the local, county and state levels focusing on early childhood programs, child abuse prevention, rural healthcare and education. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Planning, Public Policy and Management from the University of Oregon.


Now Hiring: Director of Communications

CI-logo-for-newsThe Director of Communications is a visionary leader, architect, and implementer of the organization's communications strategy and operations. The Director will help the Children's Institute catalyze statewide efforts in building a birth-through-third-grade, early learning practice-to-policy continuum focused on kindergarten readiness and third-grade success.

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New Report: Building Blocks

Building-Blocks-Fall2014-coverOur newest report, Building Blocks, looks at how two Oregon school districts, Pendleton and David Douglas, passed bonds that included financing for high-quality early learning facilities. A key finding of the report is that early learning sells.

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