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Governor’s Budget Makes Wise Investments in Early Learning

Please join us in communicating your support by sending an e-mail to Governor Kitzhaber and key legislative leaders today. Action information is below this blog about the Governor's early learning budget. 

IN HIS 2015-17 RECOMMENDED BUDGET that was released earlier this week, Governor John Kitzhaber courageously followed the evidence on early learning by proposing a $440 million investment in children birth to third grade, including $135 million for early learning. His proposal aligns with decades of research that early investments that support our youngest and most vulnerable children yield big results in improving both health and education outcomes. 

Oregon has set an ambitious goal of 40% of adults earning a bachelor’s degree or above, 40% earning an associate’s degree and 20% earning a high school diploma. The research is clear that investing in our youngest children is a critical and necessary first step to reaching this goal. Researchers can identify delays in babies as young as 9 months old and the opportunity gap only widens by the time children reach kindergarten.

Despite the research supporting the effectiveness of early investment, a 2013 report from the BUILD Initiative found that Oregon spends 14 cents on the education and development of children age birth to 5 for every $1 spent on children 6-17 years old. Under this scenario, K-12 schools are forced to play catch up and face the real and expensive costs of increased special education and remediation when these needs can be more cost-effectively addressed early on. Oregon will not significantly and efficiently move the dial on third-grade reading and high school graduation without starting earlier.

Getting more children ready for kindergarten

As the Governor’s office developed this budget, Children’s Institute’s worked closely with his team to ensure the research about what works to get children ready for kindergarten remained at the forefront. Specifically, the $135 million includes these investments, which reflect Children’s Institute’s top priorities:

• $30 million investment in preschool for low-income children that will be open to a range of high quality providers
• $10 million increase in home visiting for vulnerable families with children age birth to age 3
• $5 million increase in the Kindergarten Partnership and Innovation Fund to continue and expand the work in communities to create meaningful alignment and a common table to connect early learning and K-3

These investments are an important down payment in our youngest children, but they still leave too many children unserved. More than 31,000 low-income children living below 200% federal poverty level don’t have access to preschool. Less than 20% of eligible families have access to evidence-based home visiting services that provide parents and families with critical support and coaching to promote positive parenting and build healthy parent-child relationships during the most critical period of brain development. The proposed investments won’t be able to reach all of these children, but they are an important first step.

The balance of the $135 million includes meaningful increases to support childcare subsidies for low-income families (Employment Related Day Care), services for children with developmental delays (Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education) and Early Learning Hubs, which are all critical pieces of a comprehensive P-20 system.

Targeting resources for Oregon’s youngest and most vulnerable children will increase on-track healthy development and preparedness for kindergarten and begin to close the opportunity gap before it becomes an achievement gap.

Supporting third-grade success

The Governor also proposes to fund full-day kindergarten ($220 million) and an initiative starting at age 3 that is targeted at getting more children reading by third grade ($85 million). We applaud the focus on third-grade reading and the approach to get there, which involves aligning early learning with K-12 professional development, a focus on improving student attendance, and creating a smooth transition between preschool and kindergarten.

Children’s Institute strongly supports this effort to create a seamless and aligned high-quality early learning system for children. There is a growing recognition that achieving third-grade success requires a strong continuum of teaching and learning from birth through third grade. Furthermore, including student attendance as a critical component of an effective education system is an urgent policy option with clear benefits. Students who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are much less likely to read proficiently in third grade, and there is a growing set of proven interventions that help children get to school and stay in school so they can learn.

Children’s Institute is energized by the Governor’s budget recognition that to turn the tide for Oregon’s students we must start at the beginning. We thank him and call on key legislative leadership to build on his commitment to support Oregon’s youngest children and families.

There is still much work to do. The co-chairs of the Ways & Means Committee will release their budget in January. Ultimately the Legislature will decide the final budget for the state. The Governor’s budget is just the beginning, but a very important step toward truly building a P-20 education system.

Please join us in communicating your support by sending an e-mail to Governor Kitzhaber and key legislative leaders This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today. Let them know that you support the Governor's commitment to early learning and his $135 million recommended early learning budget.




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