Voters in Multnomah County overwhelmingly supported “Preschool for All” on Nov. 3, with 64 percent of voters approving the measure to extend early education to children across the County. Measure 26-214 also directs the Department of County Human Services to administer the program.
Preschool for All (PFA) will give 3 and 4 year olds in Multnomah County access to free, high-quality, developmentally appropriate, culturally responsive preschool experiences. The program is slated to grow over time, increasing the number of children and families that it serves each year. Families will be able to apply for slots in early 2022 and preschoolers will begin learning in September of 2022. All families in Multnomah County will be eligible to apply and families who currently have the least access to high-quality preschool will be prioritized for the first-available slots.
“Preschool for All will create a preschool system that provides our children with the supportive, joyful learning environments they need to thrive, while alleviating a huge financial burden and barrier to participation in the workforce for families, and particularly for women,” said Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, who led the creation of the program. “It will help us retain and attract good teachers and assistant teachers by paying them a living wage, and provide culturally-specific learning options for our diverse community.”
In the coming months, Multnomah County will work to bring on staff to manage the Preschool for All program, finalize an agreement for coaching and professional development for preschool providers, and form the advisory group that will oversee the work. This one-page overview includes a timeline for Preschool for All implementation.
A strong body of research suggests that investing in early childhood learning returns up to $10 in benefits for every dollar spent. Yet the children who currently experience barriers to preschool include:
- Black, Brown, Indigenous, and all children of color;
- Migrant and refugee children;
- Children whose families live under the Self-Sufficiency Standard;
- Children who speak languages other than English;
- Children with developmental delays and disabilities;
- Children of teen parents, or in military families;
- Children living in foster care;
- Children from families affected by homelessness, incarceration, substance abuse, mental health issues, and domestic violence.
Multnomah County has more than 20 years of experience administering education-related programs across school districts in its network of 91 SUN community schools. SUN programming is specifically designed to increase academic opportunities and skill development among students, reduce inequities and increase high school graduation rates. SUN is a partnership with schools, families, culturally specific organizations, and community based organizations that served more than 20,000 people in the 2018-2019 school year.
The Preschool for All Plan was based on more than two years of engagement with community members including parents, educators, policy makers and early childhood specialists and will be the foundation for program implementation.
Multnomah County just hired a Preschool & Early Learning Division Director to implement Preschool for All and to actively champion racial justice within early childhood program and systems. Leslee Barnes will be leading the initiative starting in early April.
Please visit Multco Jobs to learn more about available positions and details on how to apply.