In the effort to prepare our children for Kindergarten, create stable and attached families, and bring services together statewide, we have undertaken a number of activities to strengthen our mission. We are working to bring these activities under a collective umbrella responsible for outcomes.
These activities include:
Community support for children and families: This is our overarching goal, and more specifically includes implementing community-based coordinators of early learning services (or the shorthand: Hubs) per legislative direction, and Healthy Start-Healthy Families services including home visiting and relief nurseries. Children and families need to know where to turn and how to access the services they need.
Connecting to health care: By bridging early learning and healthcare, we ensure children arrive at school having received necessary exams, screenings, and home visits. Additionally, children at risk of adverse life events need help and an early intervention plan. The Early Learning System is creating that bridge between health and education, because healthy children feel better and learn better.
Improving child care: Children and families need high quality and affordable access to child care. Child care settings are a great place to develop learning and emotional skills, and providers should have the proper training to improve and provide quality. All child care should be a learning experience. The Early Learning System is ensuring this happens through subsidy assistance, education and outreach, and the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) that provides parents information to make child care choices based on options, and gives child care workers training tools and professional development opportunities.
Pre-K engagement and social experiences: Parents are their kids’ first teacher, but social interactions, play and engagement help guide healthy development. It can translate to being prepared for K-12 and beyond. The Early Learning System is doing this through collaborations with Head Start and through Pre-K programs around the state.
Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Grant: A resource and vehicle to accomplish our charge. The Race to the Top grant provides Oregon resources over four years to strengthen our activities and keep momentum behind early learning reform. It is acknowledges Oregon for work accomplished and will continue to do.