Our Early Learning Washington County team has released their annual report, showcasing their impact across the county in a variety of areas. The team spent 2022 prioritizing improved and increased access to early childhood care and education, working in tandem with providers, partners and parents to continue dealing with the challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic, environmental and social events of the past few years.
In 2023, the Early Learning Washington County team hopes to continue delving into optimizing systems and resources to sustain the increased access for children and families they've built so far. Scaling up the childcare workforce, facilities and infrastructure, prioritizing health and social emotional education and continuing to offer beneficial (and fun!) events and outings to communities of color through their Early STEAM framework.
The enduring work of our ELWC team, along with constant communication and reflection from their Equity Advisory Council and Parent Advisory Council, focuses on reducing the disparity of opportunities and disproportionate risks apparent in the education system. Specific efforts focus on families and children of color, those with disabilities, those that are English language learners, low-income families, those experiencing homelessness, migrant and refugee families and those who have, or are, experiencing trauma.
Early Learning Washington County is a center point for developing, growing and leveraging state, federal and community funds to invest in culturally responsive and inclusive local programs and services. The team acts as conveners, bringing together community partners, families and children to continually address emerging and persistent issues.
The Preschool Promise program is a high-quality, publicly funded preschool program that serves children ages three and four in families living at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. It also serves children in foster care and children from other historically underserved populations. Our Early Learning Washington County team is leading the way for Coordinated Enrollment, streamlining the process for families to access publicly-funded preschool. The program offers bilingual education programs in English-Spanish, English-Arabic, English-Somali, Spanish and other languages. Preschool Promise program sites can be found throughout K-12 school districts of Forest Grove, Hillsboro, Beaverton and Tigard-Tualatin, along with center-based sites, home-based sites, Head Start programs and in culturally specific organizations.
In the 2022-2023 school year, ELWC has processed more than 1,400 applications with 85% of those resulting in a successful placement. They've hosted online training sessions in English and Spanish, trained new providers, supported staff, providers and community partners with shared knowledge and networking, built a coordinated enrollment system for the entire county and much more. Read more about the amazing work being done in the full report.
Luis Nava, Co-Facilitator of this Preschool Promise pilot.
Zhulma Zarate, Co-Facilitator of this Preschool Promise pilot
Early STEM Framework:
STEM is the future, and Early Learning Washington County is on top of it! Their approach to creating a more inclusive and engaging STEM ecosystem relies on five main elements: equity and quality of access, parent engagement and leadership, county and state coordination, educator preparation and professional development, and finally curriculum instruction. The team has offered two Next Generation Science Standards trainings; these trainings were provided in English and Spanish and had forty providers participate. They continue to offer their Early STEM Summer Camps, partnering with the Iraqi Arabic School to serve more than 89 Arabic-speaking and 50 Dari and Pashto-speaking children.
ELWC has secured funding to continue programming around early STEM. With funds from PNC, Meyer Memorial Trust, Colling Foundation, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette and Portland METRO STEM Partnership, these programs will continue imbuing a spirit of curiosity in educators and children across the county. Read more about these collaboration in the full report.