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2015 Policy Priorities

 

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During the 2015 legislative session, we are focusing on the following high-impact policy strategies that are aimed at increasing the number of children who are poised for success by third grade. Learn more in our policy brief. We’d also love it if you’d be willing to formally endorse our strategies.

 

  • Expanding Access to High Quality Preschool. More than 30,000 low-income 3- and 4-year-olds lack access to high quality preschool. We propose opening the door to high-quality preschool for more low-income children. Oregon should build on its existing Head Start preschool program while paving the way for additional high-quality preschools, including schools and community-based private and culturally specific providers.

 

  • Expanding Evidence-Based Home Visiting. Only a small fraction of eligible families receive support from a trained and skilled home visitor. Effective, voluntary home-visiting programs for families prenatally until children are 3-years-old build healthy parent-child relationships, improve health outcomes, increase school readiness, and reduce child abuse.

 

  • Expanding the Kindergarten Partnership & Innovation Fund. This fund created the first opportunity in Oregon’s history to intentionally increase the connection between early learning and the K-12 system by investing in promising alignment efforts across the state. Oregon should build on the momentum that has begun in the 16 communities that received funding this year.

 

  • Addressing Chronic Absence. Oregon has one of the worst chronic absence problems in the country and we know that addressing it in the early grades is critical. In Oregon, 24% of kindergarteners are chronically absent. Research shows students who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are much less likely to read proficiently in third grade. Communities need the data on chronic absence and tools and support to address the problem.

Ready for School Policy News and Blogs

  • Early Learning Unmet Need in America

    unmetneed blogIn Oregon, more than three-quarters of four-year-olds do not have access to publicly-funded preschool. For Latino children, the unmet need is especially great.

    Learn more

    Read more

  • Convincing legislators of what we know: early learning is a smart investment

    rfs stacked one line outlinedWe are now three weeks into the Oregon legislative session, and our commitment to getting more kids served in high-quality early learning programs while continuing to strengthen the early learning system could not be stronger. Almost three-quarters of children from low-income Oregon families – or more than 30,000 – lack access to high-quality preschool. Only a tiny fraction of eligible families have access to the coaching and support an experienced home visitor can provide to parents of young children. And our early learning system is just at the early stages of breaking through historic silos to serve children and families in a coordinated system. Our work is just beginning.

    While the resignation of Gov. John Kitzhaber meant the loss of a vocal champion for investments in our youngest children, the swearing in of Gov. Kate Brown provides an opportunity to work with a new leader with a long history of supporting education and meeting the needs of children and families. We are heartened that Gov. Brown has already voiced her support for early childhood investments. When asked about improving Oregon’s high school graduation rate during her first press conference on Friday, Governor Brown made clear that advancing early childhood policy was part of the solution.

    The evidence about what it takes to ensure children have the skills and experiences they need to thrive in kindergarten and carry that success through third grade remains clear. And that evidence continues to drive our policy and budget priorities. During this legislative session, we’re encouraging state leaders to:

    • invest in high-quality preschool programs to serve an additional 1,500 Oregon children each year. We’re advocating for an additional $30 million investment over two years.
    • pass legislation that sets up a system for a mix of preschools (including Head Start, neighborhood preschools and child care, and K-12 schools) that can meet unique child and family needs — as long as they meet high-quality standards.
    • invest in effective voluntary home visiting services that reach more eligible children. The evidence-based services give parents with infants and toddlers support and coaching to meet their children’s needs. We’re advocating for an additional $10 million over two years to expand Oregon’s home visiting program, called Healthy Families Oregon.
    • build bridges between early childhood services and elementary schools to smooth transitions for children and families. We’re advocating for an additional $5 million investment over two years in the state’s Kindergarten Partnership & Innovation Fund.

    Helping to make all of this happen won’t be easy. There are pressures on the state budget from a range of other public services, of course.

    But the public – and state leaders – are beginning to understand the importance of early childhood education for children’s long term success. They are beginning to understand that investments in early learning return more long-term cost savings than almost any other public investment.

    Personal stories will help them feel the need in their hearts, beyond numbers and return-on-investment calculations. Stay tuned this session as we keep you up to date on key opportunities to lift your voice on behalf of the youngest Oregonians, and the potential we can unleash by investing in them.

    Read more

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