Preschool Promise, the ELD’s new publicly-funded preschool, has begun! By the middle of October all 1300 children enrolled in Preschool Promise will be receiving services. The program leverages high-quality, local and culturally-relevant early learning programs by funding enrollment for children whose family income is at or below 200-percent of the poverty level. By incorporating a “mixed delivery” approach, Preschool Promise provides opportunities for families to access and choose the preschool program that best meets their needs.
Nine Early Learning Hubs are coordinating the implementation of Preschool Promise in their service delivery area. The participating hubs have negotiated approximately $15 million in contracts with a variety of different types of providers. This ‘mixed delivery’ approach fulfils the legislative intent. The mix of provider types include, in order of highest participation; childcare providers, public schools, private preschools, Head Start/OPK, community based organizations, education service districts, Relief Nurseries, and charter schools.
Overall there are ninety-three different Preschool Promise locations across the state. Of the ninety-three sites, sixty-four are brand new sites or are opening up new classrooms. The Office of Child Care licensing specialists have been instrumental in ensuring that these new sites meet all the foundational health, safety and quality components required to operate an early learning program. Over $2 million was awarded to support start up and capacity building. These funds will support the purchase of new classroom set-ups, establishing of quality outdoor environments, facility upgrades, professional development and other quality improvements.
Some of the improvements are related to legislative requirements. The requirements are that all providers must be top two tier quality rated, offer 900 hours of service in a program year and meet specific staff qualifications (lead teacher with a bachelor degree and assistant with at minimum a Step 5 on the Oregon Registry). If they do not currently meet these requirements, the provider can request a waiver. In this first year of implementation approximately 90% of the sites have requested a waiver for one or more of the requirements. Almost two-thirds of the waiver requests were for the QRIS rating requirement.
Although there is a lot of work ahead to support and sustain the quality improvements and investments already made, it is a time to celebrate the accomplishments to date. Please check out the included links to hear how Preschool Promise is impacting communities, families, and children.
Preschool Promise to help hundreds, Statesman Journal