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Early Childhood Legislative Update: March 9, 2017

Marina and boyEarly Childhood Legislative Priorities

Opportunity gaps can be detected as early as nine months of age. This is one of many reasons Children’s Institute and early childhood advocates focus their work on the critical early years – to prevent gaps before they start.

This is your regular update about the progress of early childhood policy and budget decisions in Salem.

Upcoming Opportunities for Action

  • Learn more. The Early Childhood and Family Supports Committee of the Oregon Legislature is holding an informational hearing on Preschool Promise implementation on Thursday, March 9th, 1 PM. Attend in person or watch on-line from the committee website.
  • Washington County Budget Hearing. Local legislators are holding a community meeting on Thursday, March 9th, 7-8:30 PM at Beaverton High School to hear from more community members about their priorities for the state budget. This is a great opportunity for local advocates to speak on early childhood.
  • Advocate! House Bill 2013 makes amendments to the BA, salary, and evaluation requirements in the Preschool Promise statute. A public hearing is scheduled on this legislation for Tuesday, March 14th, 1-3 PM in the House Early Childhood and Family Supports Committee. These are consensus amendments to the law that have been worked on by the Speaker and a team of stakeholders. Feel free to join us, watch on line, or submit written comment to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Testify! The Ways & Means Education Subcommittee, responsible for writing the education budget from early childhood through higher education, is holding a public hearing on the early childhood budget. We need voices from across Oregon to speak up in support of key funding in the Early Learning Division (see attached). The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, March 15th, 8:30-10:00 AM State Capitol, Hearing Room F (get there early to sign up, or let us know and we can sign you up!)
  • Save the Date! House Bill 3066 will be amended to create an Early Childhood Equity Fund. The House Early Childhood and Family Supports committee is scheduled to hear testimony on this concept on March 21st, 1-3 PM. Latino Network is taking the lead on crafting this concept and advocating for a $5 million investment.

Recent Key Developments

  • Governor Brown has added former legislator Peter Buckley to her staff as the Senior Advisor for Transformation and Budget Stability to work on revenue and spending reforms to address budget shortfalls predicted for the next 6 years.
  • The Ways and Means Education Subcommittee heard a presentation on the Early Learning Division budget on March 1st, 2nd, and 6th. You can watch tapes of the hearings on their webpage.
  • The Early Childhood and Family Supports Committee held hearings on the Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative and Early Learning Hubs (February 28), and Hub metrics and monitoring (March 2). You can watch tapes of the hearing on their webpage.
  • On March 1st, Coalition of Communities of Color held a lobby day on their agenda, which includes a some early learning priorities (culturally-specific early learning services and Preschool Promise changes).

2017 Legislative Priorities

A coalition of early childhood advocates recommends investments in these programs and system enhancements to improve long-term outcomes for Oregon’s most vulnerable young children.

In 2015, the Oregon Legislature made significant progress in early childhood with the passage of Preschool Promise and funding for voluntary home visiting. We cannot risk losing ground. Early childhood services and programs serve the children and families who need support most and lay the groundwork for 3rd grade readiness. When kids are prepared to read proficiently by the end of third grade, they are more likely to graduate from high school.

Increase access and quality of early childhood services

Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education
Services enhance the development of children birth to five with diagnosed developmental delays and/or disabilities

Service Need:
70 percent of children in Early Intervention do not receive the recommended service level
Investment Need: $60 million ensures all 22,000 children receive recommended service levels

Home Visiting
Improves family self-sufficiency, school readiness, health outcomes, and family stability

Service Need: 
Only 15 percent of eligible children are enrolled/served in voluntary home visiting programs
Investment Need: $30 million to serve about an additional 1,500 children each year

High-Quality Preschool
Oregon Head Start Pre-Kindergarten and Preschool Promise programs increase school readiness, enhance children’s socio-emotional development, and help meet some families’ childcare needs

Service Need: 
Head Start reaches only 55 percent of eligible children at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty threshold. 30,000 low-income 3- and 4-year-olds (200 percent of federal poverty threshold) lack access to preschool
Investment Need: $30 million to serve an additional 1,300 children each year in Oregon Head Start Pre-Kindergarten and Preschool Promise classrooms

Relief Nurseries
Trauma-informed care keeps children (birth to 5) safe from abuse and neglect, out of foster care, and maintains family stability

Service Need: 
Relief Nurseries can serve less than 10 percent of the identified need despite raising
Investment Need: $14 million in private funds $10 million would add 34 new classrooms serving 379 children, add 13 new outreach workers, and 3,970 hours of respite services

Employment Related Daycare
Allows parents to work, increasing family and economic well-being. Provides stability to childcare providers and improves child outcomes

Service Need: 
Only 15 percent of eligible families receive assistance
Investment Need: Significant investment would expand needed programs for both children and parents

Culturally Specific Early Learning
Demonstrates intimate knowledge of lived experience of communities of color to eliminate structural barriers to learning to improve child outcomes

Service Need: 
Current services are pieced together with local and private funding
Investment Need: $5 million

Kindergarten Partnership and Innovation Fund
Engages families early as partners in child development and school readiness.

Service Need: 
Increases alignment between early childhood education, Oregon Head Start Pre-Kindergarten, and K-12 system Increased alignment between early learning and K-12 system would help children maintain academic gains made in preschool through early elementary school years
Investment Need: Maintain current funding level

Strengthen the early childhood system to better serve children and families

Early Childhood Workforce

System Need:
Children do best when their teachers and caregivers have the education, training, and professional learning they need
Investment Need: $15 million

Oregon Head Start Pre-Kindergarten Teacher Salaries

System Need: 
Higher salaries retain experienced teachers and improve child outcomes. Head Start teachers make roughly 50 percent less than kindergarten teachers, about $25,000/year
Investment Need: $15 million to increase wages and decrease turnover

Strengthen Home Visiting Coordination

System Need: 
Oregon could better serve families and more effectively track the on-going outcomes of these investments with small increases in state and local infrastructure and professional development
Investment Need: $6 million

Early Learning Hubs

System Need: 
Regional Hubs provide coordination between early childhood programs and fund services to best meet the needs of local communities
Investment Need: Maintain current level of funding

The need for early childhood investments by the numbers

  • Oregon has the 3rd worst graduation rate in the nation
  • Disparities in children can be detected as early as 9 months old and are well established by kindergarten
  • 14 percent of children entering kindergarten could not name a single letter
  • 37 percent of children entering kindergarten could not identify a single letter sound
  • 15 percent of eligible families receive Employment Related Day Care (ERDC)
  • Less than 20 percent of vulnerable families have access to voluntary home visiting services
  • 25 percent of low-income children have access to high-quality preschool
  • 75 percent of vulnerable children are not being served or not receiving adequate early childhood services

Young children with the greatest needs are more likely to be prepared for school when they have consistent high-quality early education experiences and access to proven support services. Long-term strategic investments, beginning with prenatal care, are necessary to reduce disparities and improve outcomes for children in school and life.


Blue Mountain Early Learning Hub
Children First for Oregon
Clackamas Early Learning Hub
Early Learning Alliance
Early Learning Hub
Early Learning Hub of Central Oregon
Early Learning Washington County
Eastern Oregon Community Based Services
Fight Crime Invest in Kids
Latino Network
Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub
NW Early Learning Council
Ready Nation
United Way of the Columbia-Willamette
Yamhill Community Care Organization

Download our legislative priorities as a PDF file


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