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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

  • Another victory – and now one more yard to the goal line – for Oregon’s children

    IMG 0853The Oregon Legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee yesterday approved making a vital investment in high quality preschool for Oregon children. It also approved critical investments in a range of other birth-through-third-grade initiatives to improve early learning in Oregon.

    The committee’s 21-2 vote was a vote of support for the Children’s Institute’s entire legislative agenda, including not only the expanded preschool program but also expansion of home visiting services for at-risk families and expansion of a fund that provides grants that connect children’s early years to the early grades.

    The committee's vote moves the legislation to the full Oregon House and Senate, which will consider it in the next couple of days. And now, we need your help. (More on that below.)

    A broad coalition of groups joined the Children’s Institute in supporting a $30 million investment during the 2015-2017 biennium to provide a blueprint to make quality preschool available to more children from low-income families. The bill, HB 3380, would allow for a mix of organizations – school districts, Head Starts programs and community preschools – to receive state funding to provide the high quality preschool programs.

    The committee approved investing $27 million in preschool, with one-third going to reduce current Head Start waiting lists and two-thirds going to provide high quality preschool to more children through a mix of providers. The committee also approved investing $9.5 million to expand voluntary home visiting services to families, to ensure more at-risk infants and toddlers receive support during their critical, early years of brain development. And the committee supported expansion of the Kindergarten Partnership and Innovation Fund, which provides grants focused on key early learning strategies like family engagement and kindergarten transition programs.

    The committee’s vote yesterday approved the entire Oregon Department of Education’s budget – not including general funding for the state’s K-12 schools.

    The budget also included:

    • $4 million for the state’s early intervention/early childhood special education program.
    • $10.3 million increase for the state’s Early Learning Hubs, bringing their total for the biennium to $15 million.
    • $1.7 million for a school attendance pilot project to work with schools serving large populations of Native American students in order to decrease chronic absenteeism.
    • $500,000 increase for Relief Nurseries in the state.

    The committee’s approval now means the full Oregon House and Senate will consider these important early learning investments, likely in the next few days. Now is the time to make sure your voice is heard. We are asking early learning supporters throughout the state to contact their legislators and advocate for these vital and wise investments in early learning in Oregon.

    We’re almost across the goal line. You can help us carry the ball that one extra yard – for the benefit of Oregon’s children.

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  • Another step forward for better early learning for Oregon

    rfs stacked one line outlinedThe Children’s Institute’s entire legislative agenda took a big step forward today when an important Oregon legislative subcommittee approved funding for a blueprint to expand high-quality preschool in Oregon, for expansion of home visiting services for at-risk families, and for expansion of a fund that provides grants that connect children’s early years to the early grades.

    After yesterday’s action by the Legislature’s Ways and Means Education Subcommittee, the increased investments in all three programs now move on to the full Ways and Means Committee for approval.

    A broad coalition of groups has joined the Children’s Institute in supporting a $30 million investment to provide a blueprint to make quality preschool available to more children from low-income families. The bill, HB 3380, would allow for a mix of organizations – school districts, Head Starts programs and community preschools -- to receive state funding to provide the high quality preschool programs. About three-quarters of children from low-income Oregon families currently don’t have access to preschool. (Children First for Oregon, one of more than 30 groups supporting the preschool bill, recently wrote about it on its blog.)

    The Ways and Mean Education Subcommittee today approved investing $27 million in the program. There may still be an opportunity for the Legislature to provide the full $30 million to fund the program for the 2015-2017 biennium.

    The subcommittee also approved investing $9.5 million to expand home visiting services to families who volunteer for them, to ensure more at-risk infants and toddlers receive services during their critical, early years of brain development. And the subcommittee supported expansion of the Kindergarten Partnership and Innovation Fund, which provides grants focused on key early learning strategies like family engagement workshops and kindergarten transition programs.

    The Legislature’s full Ways and Means Committee is expected to consider the early learning initiatives as early as this week. If that committee approves, the Oregon House and Senate will vote on the initiatives. The legislative session is expected to end the second week of July.

     

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