The mission of Oregon’s Early Learning System is simple:
• get Oregon’s kids to Kindergarten ready to succeed;
• ensure their parents have the support and resources necessary to create a positive family environment;
• and integrate resources and services statewide into a coordinated system for parents and families.
Every interaction a child has from birth to the Kindergarten doors has an effect on the rest of their life. With 45,000 new Oregonians born every year, the Early Learning System is working to make sure those 45,000 new beginnings are set on a path, ready to meet education goals like reading at grade level by 3rd grade, and building the emotional and developmental tools necessary to live a life of positive experiences.
By investing in our children now we are not only prioritizing our most important resource, but setting the next generation up for success.
Early learning is not just about what happens in a classroom. It starts during the critical first 1000 days of a child’s life. Oregon’s Early Learning System is responsible for making sure children get to school ready, and this means their development depends on:
• having access to the healthcare they need, and knowing where to turn;
• that issues can be identified and found early;
• that children enter a quality child care system that constantly improves;
• that they have access to learning, social, and engagement opportunities prior to Kindergarten;
• and that when they enter those Kindergarten doors, a check is performed taking a look at where they’ve been, and a look forward to what unique path is right for them to continue life’s race with even footing and proper pace.
The Early Learning System is integrating and bringing services together through the lens that everyone who works with a child is collectively setting them up to be ready for Kindergarten, and responsible for their future.
Why are we doing this? How does early learning contribute to the bigger picture?
To quote Eduardo Porter of the New York Times, who wrote a piece with James Heckman, the nation’s top human development economist:
“Studies that have followed children through their adult lives confirm enormous payoffs for these [early learning] investments, whether measured in improved success in college, higher income or even lower incarceration rates.
The costs of not making these investments are also clear. Julia Isaacs, an expert in child policy at the Urban Institute in Washington, finds that more than half of poor 5-year-olds don’t have the math, reading or behavioral skills needed to profitably start kindergarten. If children keep arriving in school with these deficits, no amount of money or teacher evaluations may be enough to improve their lot later in life…
…Education is always portrayed in the American narrative as the great leveler. But it can’t do its job if it leaves so many behind so early.”
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