Portland parent frustrated over lack of answers about Preschool Promise program

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 9:46 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Hundreds of parents of preschoolers in the metro area are facing a frustrating uncertainty. Many of them were relying on tuition-free schooling from the state-run Preschool Promise program to start earlier this month, but it’s still unclear when they might get their kids in school.

“All of her other friends knew where they were going, they were finding out all the different rules all the programs have and with Frankie, we just didn’t know,” Melissa Laurie, a Portland parent, said.

Laurie’s three-year-old daughter Frankie was supposed to start preschool through the program a few weeks ago and doesn’t know when she might get to go. For now, she’s in a Head Start program.

“We’ve been in conversations with them, but they have never been able to give us a timeline,” Laurie said. “I wanted to know why? Cause this is very frustrating to me as a parent. Just basic information just for me and not to have it is very hard.”

FOX 12 reached out to the Oregon Department of Education’s Early Learning Division about the confusion, which said there have been delays in getting grant agreements to Preschool Promise providers. They said short staffing is one issue but the legalities of processing the grants is another factor holding things up.

They said the program has continued to run, but that doesn’t quite answer Laurie’s questions, as her daughter still isn’t in Preschool Promise.

“It’s a little confusing. Part of it is because these systems are confusing,” she said.

The Early Learning Director of Early Learning Multnomah, which helps eligible families apply, said enrolling kids in Preschool Promise providers is dependent on the status of the school’s grant of contract with the state. They said they’ve been fielding questions and frustrations from around 600 families dealing with this.

Laurie said he understands these have been uncertain times but wishes they communicated better so she and other parents could plan accordingly.

“I recommended it to another friend of mine. I thought it would be a good fit for her daughter and she keeps texting me, ‘Have you heard anything?’ She says it feels like we’ve been ghosted because there’s been no communication about what’s going on,” Laurie said.