BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Preschool Promise, a statewide initiative to increase the number of quality, affordable spaces for children ages 3 or 4 years old, has expanded to Central Oregon, and recruitment is open, officials announced Tuesday.
Preschool Promise is a model for a publicly funded, high-quality preschool system. Preschool Promise said it leverages high-quality, local and culturally-relevant early child care and education programs and makes them available to children living at 200% of the poverty level.
By incorporating a mixed delivery approach which recognizes that high quality early learning experiences can take place in a wide variety of settings, Preschool Promise provides opportunities for families to access and choose the preschool setting which best meets their needs.
”Access to quality preschool programming ensures critical child care needs are met and provides young children with development opportunities that directly connect to success in Kindergarten and beyond.” said Shelley Irwin, Early Learning Hub of Central Oregon’s project manager. ”Together with the expansion of Head Start and Oregon Pre-Kindergarten (OPK), over 700 new slots are opened for families in Central Oregon."
The Early Learning Division of the Oregon Department of Education, through a grant process, awarded Preschool Promise contracts to eight local providers. They include:
- AURAS Preschool
- Bend Preschool
- Boulden-Rogen Early Childhood Academy
- Ermila's Childcare and Bilingual Preschool
- Madras High School
- MountainStar Family Relief Nursery
- Rocking Horse Childcare and Preschool
- Sisters Elementary School
“Preschool Promise is important in leveling the playing field for our students living up to 200% of the federal poverty level, “ said Mylee Card, Sisters Elementary School Pre-K director. “Being a kindergarten teacher, I know exactly what I would like my students to be able to do when they enter my kindergarten classroom, and we will be able to provide these foundational skills to our Pre-K students.”
At the core of this work is regional partnership. In 2019, early care and education partners from Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties, along with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, developed what is known as the Early Childhood Strategic Plan, a cross-sector plan developed to support initiatives funded by the Student Success Act.
For many Central Oregon families, preschool costs in the past have proved out of reach. Preschool Promise brings 163 slots for families earning under 200% of the Federal Poverty level, currently $52,400 per year for a family of 4, at no cost to the family.
Some families already enrolled in programs that meet the income criteria will transition to the Preschool Promise slots; however, there is a large portion of the 163 slots that remain open. The Early Learning Hub of Central Oregon will coordinate enrollment across the region to ensure that families have one access point for Preschool Promise. Families interested in the program should express interest at earlylearninghubco.org
Early Learning Hub of Central Oregon is a regional cross-sector partnership working collectively to support parents and to establish a solid foundation for children’s long-term success. The Hub serves Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson Counties and for mutually agreed upon strategies, The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (Tribes). To learn more visit earlylearninghubco.org