9:42 a.m. PDT September 13, 2016
Early learning hubs across the state will implement Preschool Promise this month, with the aim of helping hundreds of children.
Preschool Promise, Oregon’s free preschool program, will start with rolling starting dates across the state in September. The pilot program supports children and families living at or below 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
Preschool Promise will reach approximately 1,300 children across Oregon. There are about 330 enrollment opportunities specifically in Marion County.
“Economic status should not get in the way of building a solid foundation for any young learner,” Governor Kate Brown said in a statement. “Preschool Promise is a critical step in addressing this persistent equity gap in our education system so that all students have access to the supports and learning they need to thrive.”
As part of Brown’s back-to-school visits, she visited Loving Beginnings in Salem on Friday.
Loving Beginnings, part of the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub Inc., was the first site in Oregon to implement the Preschool Promise program.
Josie Emmrich, owner and operator of Loving Beginnings, serves about 12 children at a time, with the help of a couple of parents and volunteers. The child care center is in a home in northeast Salem.
Emmrich said the program will allow school to be more seamless for more children, and will “(boost) quality all around.”
In 2015, the Oregon Legislature enacted House Bill 3380, the creation of a new, publicly funded, high-quality preschool system.
The model leverages high-quality, local and culturally relevant early child care and education programs, according to the Early Learning Division. The preschool model provides opportunities for families to access and choose the preschool program which best meets their needs.
Wendy Ginsburg brought her daughter, Willow, 3, to Loving Beginnings for her first day on Friday.
When Willow found out she was going to be playing with homemade Play-Doh with the governor, she asked her mom what kind of creatures the governor was going to make.
Wendy said Preschool Promise is important for families who can’t qualify for other programs, such as Head Start, but still want to enroll in a preschool within their financial means.
“It’s unfortunate the available spots are few and far between,” she said.
While the program will be helping hundreds of students, there are many more who need the help.
Lisa Harnish, executive director of the Marion and Polk Early Learning Hub, said, moving forward, it’s all about building capacity so there are more Preschool Promise programs and hubs.
She said to the governor on Friday, “We need more.”
The early learning hubs involved this year applied in early 2016 to implement Preschool Promise and recommendations were presented to the Early Learning Council for its vote at the March meeting.
There are six regional hubs in the state: Marion Polk Early Learning Hub, Eastern Oregon Early Learning Hub, Lane Early Learning Alliance, Southern Oregon Early Learning Services, South Central Oregon Hub and the Northwest Regional Hubs that include NW Regional, Early Learning Multnomah, Early Learning Washington County and Clackamas County.
For more information, contact the Marion and Polk Early Learning Hub at 503-967-1185, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go online to earlylearninghub.org.