Oregon Plans to Expand Access to Early Head Start with State Funds

Mar 02, 2010

By Rachel Schumacher

The Oregon Legislature has taken a new step toward establishing a state-federal partnership to expand access to Early Head Start, the federal comprehensive early care and education program for infants and toddlers, their families, and pregnant women. In a bipartisan vote, the Legislature appropriated $1 million to the Department of Education to serve at-risk infants and toddlers through grants to existing Early Head Start programs. The Governor had also included this amount in his budget, and is expected to approve this appropriations provision. In Oregon there were just 749 federally funded spaces for children and pregnant women in Early Head Start in 2008. Expanding access to the Early Head Start model in Oregon has been a focus of the Ready for School campaign, affiliated with the Children's Institute.

Oregon will join a set of states that have initiatives to build on Early Head Start in four ways; at least 20 states were using state funds or federal block grant dollars to expand or enhance Early Head Start in 2007. According to research conducted by CLASP and ZERO TO THREE, state leaders reported extending the day/year of child care services offered by federal Early Head Start programs; supplementing federal Early Head Start programs to expand or enhance their programs; supporting partnerships between federal Early Head Start programs and community-based child care centers and family child care homes; and funding community-based early childhood programs to meet federal Program Performance Standards for infants/toddlers and their families. In Kansas and Oklahoma, state initiatives have about doubled the number of children receiving Early Head Start services over what federal funding had allowed.

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