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Leading the Way

Leading the Way
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Leading the Way cover

Leading the Way is the story of why four Oregon superintendents — Bob Stewart of Gladstone, Maryalice Russell of McMinnville, Jon Peterson of Pendleton, and Don Grotting of David Douglas — embraced early learning. The report was released at our 2014 Make It Your Business event, in conjunction with a video featuring the superintendents in action.


Stopping the Summer Slide

Stopping the Summer Slide
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Summer Slide cover

The summer literacy program is one small piece, but an important one, in the broader Early Works initiativeat Earl Boyles Elementary School. The program is a building block in the effort to close the achievement gap for young children. As Bill Graves finds in this special report, the work is paying off.


Baby Steps Into a Big World

Baby Steps Into a Big World
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babysteps cover

In our newest report, we tell the story of how a publicly funded preschool began at Earl Boyles Elementary School in Portland, and of the many courageous and smart partners who came together to make it work. We hope this story inspires and motivates the needed system reofrms that our Early Works demonstration project has uncovered. These are challenges that should be met and overcome as we continue to work to do what is best for children.





Room to Grow

Room to Grow
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Communities across Oregon are grappling with an inadequate supply of early childhood facilities. Meanwhile, experts have led the way to a better understanding of how the design of a facility influences a child's development - positively or negatively depending on the design.

"Room to Grow" is a compilation of articles about the design and financing of early childhood facilities. Written by professionals in the fields of early care and education, architecture/design, community development, fundraising and children's advocacy, the publication provides a glimpse of what is possible in Oregon. Interviews conducted in Oregon suggest that the expertise and funding exist now to begin making headway in communities across the state. While resources exist, they are disparate and inadequate, and putting the pieces together while operating an early childhood program can be overwhelming. A handful of heroic organizations have overcome the challenges. Their stories are told here.



Voices for Quality
Directors of the child development programs at Nike, Portland State University and Mentor Graphics describe how their facilities facilitate early learning.

Gillian Brune
Director, Child Development Center
Mentor Graphics

Marilyn Harrison
Executive Director of Child Development Programs

Will Parnell, Ed.D.
Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education
Pedagogical Director, Helen Gordon Child Development Center

Portland State University

Oregon's Starting Five

Oregon's Starting Five
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Science confirms what common sense tells us: the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of infants, toddlers and preschoolers provides the foundation for healthy development in later childhood and adolescence. Yet in Oregon, far too many children grow up in environments that jeop­ardize their ability to be successful in school and life. The stresses of poverty, parental depression and social isolation, for example, can impede the healthy develop­ment of young children.

Oregon's prevention-focused early childhood programs are doing good work; however, the number of vulnerable children in Oregon outstrips the capacity of these programs to serve those most in need. Read on to learn more about Oregon's Starting Five.

From Risk to Resilience

From Risk to Resilience
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The report, "From Risk to Resilience: Building the Social and Emotional Health of Oregon's Most Vulnerable Young Children," highlights why and how the social, emotional and behavioral health of young children provides the foundation for success in school and beyond.

Children who are engaged, able to focus, cooperate with peers, accept supervision from adults and regulate their emotions are much more likely to do well in school than those who are not. Children who are routinely distracted or disengaged, constantly fighting with their classmates and teachers, or too often swept away by their emotions will struggle, and many will fail.

The report highlights the good work being done in Oregon to promote positive social and emotional health of at-risk children. Regrettably, far too few of the young children whose social, emotional and behavioral health is at risk have access to these and other prevention strategies that can change the trajectory of their lives.

Is Oregon Ready to Learn?

Improving Oregon's Kindergarten Readiness Survey
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is_oregon_ready_to_learn_coverAssessments of school readiness, when done correctly, are useful planning tools. Assessing children as they enter kindergarten allows policy-makers to identify and respond to achievement gaps and communities to determine whether children are prepared for success in school. Well-designed assessments help public officials direct resources effectively and efficiently. On the other hand, poorly designed or poorly administered assessments - even if inexpensive - are not a good use of public resources.

As Oregon and the nation move toward comprehensive data systems that track the education of children from birth through college, now is the time to re-engineer Oregon's kindergarten readiness survey to provide Oregonians - policy-makers in particular - a useful tool for measuring school readiness.

Parent Perspectives on the First Five Years

Strategy for School Success
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Parent PerspectivesTo ensure the perspective of low-income parents is reflected in its public policy agenda, the Children's Institute commissioned Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall to conduct four focus groups. The research has been designed to assess parents' understanding of and attitudes toward the first five years of their child's life, covering topics such as school readiness, child care, and preschool. Participants also discussed what barriers they face in getting what they need to make sure their children have a healthy start during their first five years of life.

Click here to view the appendices.

Investing in Young Kids = Investing in Their Teachers

Building Oregon's Early Education Workforce
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Children's Institute Publication Cover ShotEarly childhood education is capturing the attention of policymakers and the public like never before. A growing body of research proves that quality early childhood education is crucial from birth to age five, when brain development is most dramatic. We know that the stimulation and security a child receives during these years has everything to do with cognitive, linguistic, and socio-emotional development -- in short: the ability to learn, engage, and be prepared for school success. As we increase our investments in early education, we must grow and strengthen our workforce of teachers and caregivers.

Better training, compensation, and support are essential for those who work in varied early childhood settings -- from the Head Start classroom teacher with a degree to the 18-year-old working as a teaching assistant in a local child care center to the mature caregiver who has raised two generations of healthy kids in a home-based program. When we give all of these teachers the tools to be better at what they do, we serve our children and build a stronger workforce for Oregon.

Investing in High Quality Pre-K: A Strategy for School Success

Issue Brief 2
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Children's Institute Publication Covershot


There is an urgent need to invest in early childhood education for the future of Oregon and its citizens. To be economically competitive, Oregon must produce more high school and college graduates and a more highly trained and skilled workforce. To accomplish this, we must ensure all children come to school ready to succeed.

The economic and scientific research is clear. Young children are hard-wired to learn from birth. We lose a vital opportunity if we do not help them succeed during the most critical window of brain development -- from 0-5. When we provide young children with a high quality pre-kindergarten experience and support their healthy development, their chances of succeeding in school and life increase tremendously.

Oregon Children's Budget Project

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childrens_budget_coverIn 2005, the Children's Institute commissioned ECONorthwest to produce this Oregon Children's Budget. We asked ECONorthwest to answer the question: what federal, state and foundation spending is devoted to low-income children in Oregon? As basic as this question may seem, the answer to it was unknown with any detail before the publication of this report.

Our goal in asking this question and commissioning this report is to help decision-makers and the general public better understand how Oregon addresses the needs of low-income children, so that resources can be
allocated in a way that has the greatest possible benefit. The information in this report will serve as a baseline for comparing future spending and resource allocation.

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