Oregon is offering free preschool to hundreds of families across the state as part of an innovative program approved by the state legislature to support families in need this school year.
The state’s newly launched pilot program, Preschool Promise, is aimed at addressing an equity gap in the state’s education system. The program supports children and families living at, or below 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
Administrators at Adelante Mujeres Preschool based out of W.L. Henry Elementary School in Hillsboro told FOX 12 it’s one of 18 different Preschool Promise sites in Washington County.
“Here in Washington County, we have a good portion of families that fall within that official number, I believe it's 6,000,” Washington County Preschool Promise Manager Brittany Geertsen said.
Geertsen said that Washington County is one of 17 across the state to benefit from the program, which will support some 1,300 children. It was created through legislation passed in 2015 which allows the state to publicly fund preschool in a variety of high-quality settings.
“It’s great because it targets people who slip through the gaps right above the poverty level,” teacher Kerry Fritz said. “It helps families that have a low income that miss out on benefits and typically get less help in general.”
The model leverages local and culturally-relevant early child care and education programs. State leaders say by incorporating a mixed delivery approach, the preschool model will provide opportunities for families to access and choose the preschool program which best meets their needs.
Right now, Geertsen said they’re focused on getting 4-year-olds enrolled in the program because it better prepares them for kindergarten.
“For some sites, there are wait lists in Washington County. We intend to group preschools by school boundary areas, so essentially they have a cohort to advance to in their K—12 schooling,” she said. “It’s going to be exciting to see how kids develop together.”
More information on which counties and schools are participating in the Preschool Promise program is available at OregonEarlyLearning.com.
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