It has been two years since the Oregon legislature passed House Bill 2013 which created the Early Learning Hubs. Since that time the Early Learning Division (ELD) has facilitated the launch of all regional 16 hubs, covering every part of the state. A few hubs have been in existence for over a year and others formally became hubs in the last month. The hubs are tasked with ensuring that early learning supports and services are more available, more accessible and more effective for underserved children and families in their region.
Two Regional Early Learning Hub Facilitators began work in April of this year with in-person visits, reviews of existing hub strategic plans, meeting hub board members, parent councils, and connecting to or directly providing technical assistance to hubs. Joy Jerome Turtola supports the tri-county metro/northwest hubs and Tab Dansby supports the hubs in the Willamette Valley. Two additional hub facilitators will be joining in August, and they will support Early Learning Hubs in the southern and eastern part of the state. Hub Facilitators also help bring the hub perspectives and needs to the ELD in regularly scheduled Division meetings and as group facilitators working to strengthen the sharing of successful program practices across the state.
An important piece in the statewide success of the hubs is the continued cultivation of leadership skills in hub staff. To achieve this, the ELD is allocating resources to provide an Early Learning Leadership Institute that is designed to address the following Early Learning goals:
- Improve program quality and outcomes for children
- Increase the number of at-promise children (often referred to as at-risk) participating in high-quality learning and development programs
- Help to close the achievement gap between at-promise children and their peers by supporting efforts to increase kindergarten readiness
Highlights of the outcomes for this nine-month cohort group of selected hub staff include:
- Leaders will produce a local shared agreement with agencies in their communities that will support early learning goals
- Leaders will create, implement, and/or measure progress on local strategic plans in collaboration with key stakeholders in their communities that are tied to statewide Early Learning metrics and goals
- Leaders will actively share knowledge about early childhood systems and collaborative leadership with peer local partnerships
- Leaders will actively use data to drive equity in decision-making about funding local programs and services
In addition to the exciting work of the Leadership Institute, hubs are already seeing many successes. For example, Lane Early Learning Alliance is utilizing funding –while partnering with a local school district, their local United Way, and other foundations – to hold a Kindergarten Readiness workshop for children and parents currently learning English. All of the children in the workshop will be starting kindergarten in the Fall, and this workshop will give families the opportunity to build relationships with kindergarten teachers, get familiar with the classroom environment and typical activities, work on language skills as a family, and have fun. The school district is providing transportation and meals for both kids and their parents during the workshop. Lane Early Learning Alliance staff report that it’s clear that parents are feeling increasingly confident and excited as they’re learning along with their children both inside and outside of the workshop.
Look for more highlights of hub work in future newsletters.