‘Preschool for All’ program to help hundreds of families in Multnomah County
MULTNOMAH COUNTY, Ore. (KPTV) - Hundreds of families in Multnomah County stand to benefit from free childcare under the county’s new Preschool for All program.
Voters approved the program by a wide margin in 2020, and it launches this fall.
At Harmony Montessori School in southeast Portland, teachers are preparing for an influx of new preschoolers.
“We were awarded, as part of the pilot program, 40 slots this year,” said Briana Weber, Enrollment Coordinator at Harmony Montessori. “We just reserve those slots for the families, and they get assigned to us by the program.”
In the program’s first year, Preschool for All is providing 600 free child care slots, prioritizing parents who have barriers to childcare, like those who are houseless, have language barriers, or are struggling to make ends meet.
“What we’re doing is making the first opportunity for folks that don’t have access right now,” said Leslie Barnes, Preschool and Early Learning Director for Multnomah County.
One of the new preschool slots went to Annie Sjogren’s son Miles, who turns four in November. The program covers childcare from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with lunches and snacks included.
“We are so blessed,” said Sjogren. “It’s an amazing program.”
Before being accepted into the free preschool program, Sjogren was preparing to pay as much as $3,000 per month for both of her kids to be in childcare.
While the first 600 slots for the 2022 and 2023 school year are already full, the county plans to add additional childcare slots every year, hoping to reach universal preschool in ten years
Applications for the 2023-2024 school year will open in the spring.
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