Elisabeth Underwood joined the Early Learning Division (ELD) in early July as the Home Visiting Specialist with Healthy Families Oregon (HFO). She comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience in early childhood settings and programs. Her new role includes supporting home visiting initiatives such as the Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting grant and professional development opportunities and pathways for home visiting program staff. She will also assist with the multi-site HFO Oregon re-accreditation process in 2017.
Re-accreditation of Healthy Families Oregon happens every four years and requires an in-depth review of all HFO sites. A team of Healthy Families America (HFA) reviewers analyze service delivery, training and staff support systems, policies and procedures and the ELD’s governance and administration practices for alignment with HFA model fidelity and adherence to best practices. Over a five-month period, reviewers will visit program sites and examine programs. Findings are reported back by September 2017, with the goal of full re-accreditation as a multi-site system.
Prior to joining the ELD, Elisabeth worked as an Assessment Worker, Supervisor and Program Manager over a 15-year span with Healthy Families programs in Clackamas, Washington and Marion Counties. Seeking opportunities to broaden her knowledge of early childhood education, she implemented an ARRA-funded Early Head Start grant as Early Head Start Director for four years at Family Building Blocks Relief Nursery and most recently has taught as Adjunct Faculty at Chemeketa Community College.
“I think my diverse experience viewing the field of early childhood from different lenses is a good fit for the ELD, as I’ve been involved with early childhood programs such as Relief Nurseries and Early Head Start, home visiting programs like Healthy Families, professional development for early childhood educators and in creating successful learning opportunities for students at a community college,” she shared when reflecting on how she came to work for the ELD. Elisabeth thinks her work is important because “HFO plays a huge role in Oregon’s efforts to equalize opportunities for early learning and provide it in settings outside of the traditional infant/toddler or preschool setting. It is a unique model that works intensively with parents to provide them with support, access, resources, and parenting knowledge.”
Elisabeth’s rich background makes her a rare gem in her current role and provides her with a unique perspective to promote cross-integration of early childhood initiatives. Her work and experience have made her very passionate about finding ways to bring neuroscience to parents so they can promote brain building in children. She is a fan of Vroom, which provides daily tips to promote brain building in parents and caregivers’ every day activities with children.
“The ELD staff is exceptionally talented with a strong commitment in bringing about improvement in Oregon’s education, and its accessibility for all children. The team values creativity and innovation, and I am happy to be a part of it!”