OMSI Plays Host to Informational Free Preschool Event with our Early Learning Multnomah Team

Wednesday, May. 31, 2023

On Monday, May 22nd a parade of diverse families piled through the doors of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry to learn about preschool options and play. Thanks to the hard work of our Early Learning Multnomah County team, this event was able to help 277 individuals connect with the Early Learning team and their many talented partners.

A steady flow of parents went from table to table asking questions about free or low-cost, high-quality preschool programs while their kids were able to run wild and play, learn and create.

This event focused on outreach to new families of a diverse background. The purpose was to inform them of preschool program options they have access to in our community. It also served as a place to build partnerships between our team and the other organizations working to ensure preschool is accessible, quality and known of. The Early Learning Multnomah team wanted to broaden the network of support so families across our region can easily get access to options for preschool that fits their schedule, their culture and their needs.

This accessibility is the impetus behind another achievement that was celebrated on May 22nd. Our team has released a brand new website that is meant as a tool for parents, built by parents. Built with input from Early Learning Multnomah’s Parent Accountability Council, this website is search engine that simplifies the preschool process. It can help families find the nearest high-quality preschool for their kids to attend. Our team knows that, with the multitude of programs available, parents can be overwhelmed by the process of finding a preschool. Now, as our county ramps up to Preschool for All, families have another resource at their disposal to ensure their children have the best care.

“A lot of people signed up for Preschool For All, but not everyone can get a slot,” said Destiny Magana Pablo, Bilingual Coordinated Enrollment Project Manager at United Way of the Columbia-Willamette. “We wanted to provide a place for parents to access support while the Preschool For All program completes its rollout.” 

This inimitable desire to support families that are often overlooked by our county is what drives our Early Learning Multnomah team to continue putting on events like the one at OMSI. We know that families thrive when they have the chance to, and without support from beyond our county government, many of these families would fall through the cracks. As we approach 2030 (when the Preschool For All program is slated to be universal) we know that families will continue to need support and places to have their kids included. The effort at OMSI and the rollout of the Preschool Marketplace are part of that support.

Access to a place like OMSI is of paramount importance for low-income children of color. Science museums like OMSI provide a unique learning environment that fosters curiosity, exploration and hands-on engagement with scientific concepts. By offering access to exhibits, interactive displays, and educational programs, these museums can play a crucial role in sparking an early interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields among underrepresented communities. By exposing children to the wonders of science and providing opportunities for active learning, museums can help break down barriers and inspire a lifelong passion for STEM disciplines.

Moreover, OMSI offers an inclusive space where children from diverse backgrounds can see themselves represented in the exhibits and programs. By featuring diverse scientists, role models and exhibits that reflect the experiences of children from different cultural backgrounds, OMSI promotes a sense of belonging and inspires children to envision themselves as future scientists and innovators. By providing access to OMSI for free, these children and their families not only have an opportunity to explore STEM subjects but also and opportunity to empower themselves as active contributors to the scientific community, helping to bridge the representation gap in STEM fields and create a more inclusive and equitable future.

One volunteer at the OMSI event noted this happening for parents too. He saw a father of a younger child complete one of OMSI’s many challenging puzzles, while another father looked on in bewilderment. After introducing each other, the puzzle-master father worked alongside the other father to teach him how to solve the puzzle. This community-building and cooperation is just another added benefit of an event like this. 

This interaction alone is enough for us to justify this event as a massive success, but we know from speaking to our partners, speaking to the parents and children at the event and speaking to our staff, that the benefits were abounding throughout the night. Thanks to our partners and our volunteers for being a part of preschool progress!

Stay connected with us, sign up for our newsletter!