In Oregon, 3,850 children under the age of three are enrolled in Early Head Start programs. The state currently enrolls 10 percent of its 4-year-olds in high-quality preschool. However, with strong support from Sen. Wyden and his co-sponsorship of the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, which would help Oregon improve and expand high-quality, early childhood opportunities, state leaders continue to innovate in the early learning field. Specifically, the state is placing a distinct focus on connecting the early learning and K-12 systems to ensure sustained impact of its early childhood programs. The average annual cost of center-based infant care in the state is $13,452.
- What the governor is saying: Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber did not have a State of the State address this year, but his office named streamlining Oregon’s early childhood services and investing in kids from an early age as a top education priorities.
- What’s happening in the legislature: Oregon is making progress in overhauling its approach to early learning with a new set of regional “early learning hubs” that have child care, health care, preschool and social service programs work together. Meanwhile, linkages between Early Learning and K-12: HB 2013 created the Early Learning Kindergarten Readiness Partnership and Innovation Fund to build local connections between early childhood programs and schools.
- Funding increases and additional support: Oregon increased funding for preschool by $6 million in the 2014 budget and won a competitive Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant that will provide $20 million to improve early learning and development. In May 2014, Oregon’s Early Learning Council designated nearly $4 million in grants to 16 applicants through the new Early Learning Kindergarten Readiness Partnership and Innovation Fund. The Fund will especially focus on building local connections between early childhood programs and schools.