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Oregon Early Learning Council
Financing, Governance/Leadership, Quality Improvement, Financing, Quality Rating Systems
Source Of Information:
ZERO TO THREE Policy Center state updates
Oregon passed a major early childhood bill in March, 2012 to improve coordination among early childhood programs, increase access for families most in need of services, and establish accountability measures. House Bill 4165 eliminates the Oregon Commission on Children and Families and the Oregon Commission on Childcare, transferring the programs and responsibilities to the recently established Early Learning Council (ELC). In February 2013, as part of its efforts to streamline early childhood services, the ELC submitted a proposal for a global budgeting approach for early learning services to the legislature. The last official day for the Oregon Commission on Children and Families was June 29, 2012. Their responsibilities will further be consolidated under the Early Learning Council and its Director, Jada Rupley.
HB 2013 contains one of the Children's Institute's and Ready for School's highest priorities for this legislative session: the creation of a $4 million Early Learning Kindergarten Readiness Partnership and Innovation Fund to build local connections between early childhood programs and schools. HB 3234 creates a new Early Learning Division within the Department of Education, consolidating the administration of key early childhood programs such as Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten, Healthy Start and child-care licensing. HB 2013 also launches the regional Early Learning Hubs through which communities will be able to coordinate and tailor early learning services to best meet the needs of children and families. Regional hubs will replace the existing county-level commissions on children and families to convene and coordinate early learning services locally. HB 2013, allows for the ELC to implement up to seven Hubs in fiscal year 2013 and up to nine more in fiscal year 2014. The ELC has established a request for proposals process to select entities to serve as hubs. Education service districts, county agencies, faith-based organizations, tribes, and community colleges are eligible to apply. Each hub will receive approximately $5 million a year to complete their work (85% of which must be used to provide direct services). The hubs will engage local residents in planning to ensure services are meeting community needs.
The legislation does not make any budgetary or regulatory changes for Head Start/Early Head Start, early childhood special education, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), or the child care subsidy program. However, they will participate in planning and coordinating efforts that take place in the regional hubs. The ELC will also take the lead on work being done to select screening tools for use in all settings serving children. Plans include screening all babies at birth, 9 months, 18 months, and age 3 to determine whether they are reaching milestones. In addition, every state-funded program—including health, nutrition, and parenting programs–will focus on and report school-readiness indicators. The law also calls for the implementation of a Tiered Quality Rating Improvement System and a kindergarten readiness assessment, which schools must begin using by fall 2013.
For more information on the Oregon Early Learning Council and HB 4165, visit www.oregon.gov