CI Announces Board Chair, Bob Harding

CI Announces Board Chair, Bob Harding

Children’s Institute is pleased to announce its new board chair, Bob Harding. Harding succeeds John Tapogna, who served as chair since 2019.

Harding is the president and chief operating officer of Pacific West Bank, leading the bank’s strategic direction and running day-to-day operations.

”Since I’ve met him, Bob’s commitment to Oregon’s kids and the future of our state has been so evident. His deep personal connection to our mission, as well as his wealth of experience as a leader, will be invaluable as we work to ensure that families across the state are supported to thrive,” said Kali Thorne Ladd, Children’s Institute’s chief executive officer.

Harding also currently serves on the boards of Educational Opportunities for Children and Families (EOCF), Oregon Bankers Association (OBA), and Bit by Bit Horse Therapy. 

“I’m honored and excited to lead the board at Children’s Institute, working toward a socially just and equitable Oregon where all children have the love, care, and education they need,” Harding said. “As a child, I had an opportunity that changed my life: preschool. I was a Head Start student, and that experience gave me the foundation to succeed in kindergarten and in school. As I got older, it helped me grow and learn and provided a safe, nurturing environment. I was the youngest of four children whose father had left the family, so Head Start also allowed my mother to work. Our whole family benefitted from that opportunity, and we would not be where we are today without it. The importance of a child’s early years cannot be overstated, and I’m glad to join Children’s Institute in building and strengthening a seamless system of support for kids and families across the state.”

Harding shared more about his personal connection to Children’s Institute’s work in this 2019 episode of The Early Link Podcast: A Trip Down Memory Lane at Orchards Head Start

About Children’s Institute

Children’s Institute (CI) is a policy, advocacy, and research organization working toward a robust and seamless early childhood system in Oregon. All children are born precious, powerful, and full of potential, but many young children experience barriers to opportunity due to racism, economic injustice, geographic isolation, and other systemic inequities. These same children often lack access to programs and services that strengthen early learning and healthy development. CI leverages research, practice, policy, and advocacy to shift systems toward justice for families so that all Oregon’s children, prenatal to grade 5, have access to opportunity.

In 2022, we are focused on strategies to address the growing literacy crisis across the state, and will continue to advocate for policies that both expand access to quality early childhood programs and address the need for public investment in adequate child care facilities.


Related Links

Children’s Institute’s Board of Directors

A Trip Down Memory Lane at Orchards Head Start

Federal Aid Program Brought 60k Oregon Kids Out of Poverty

Federal Aid Program Brought 60k Oregon Kids Out of Poverty

2019 KIDS COUNT data from Our Children Oregon tells us that before the onset of COVID-19, 13.6% of Oregon’s children were living in poverty. Between January and April of 2020, this rate dropped nearly five points, following the release of federal pandemic relief funds. 

Federal aid programs like the Child Tax Credit (CTC) go a long way toward reducing the economic burden facing low-income families across our state, helping these families access basic needs that will lead to better health for their children, increased stability, and more success in school and beyond.

Initial findings from the Oregon Poverty Measure Project show that the expanded Child Tax Credit, which provided monthly payments to families of up to $300 per child under age 6 and up to $250 per child 6 to 17, helped to bring 60,000 Oregon children out of poverty. 

October 2021 data from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities show that 89% of low-income families in Oregon have received funds from the expanded CTC, and according to research from the Social Policy Institute, families reported using the monthly influx of cash to pay for food, housing, utilities, and child care. 

This benefit, one of the most popular provisions in President Biden’s Build Back Better Act, ended in December and is not going to continue unless bipartisan agreement can be reached. As advocates for children, we believe it’s imperative to continue supporting families with relief programs such as the expanded Child Tax Credit. 


Read More About the Child Tax Credit


The Child Tax Credit Is Buffering Families from Financial HardshipRapid-EC Project

Research Roundup of the Expanded Child Tax Credit: The First 6 MonthsCenter on Poverty and Social Policy

Tax Credit Reforms in Build Back Better Would Benefit a Diverse Group of FamiliesInstitute on Taxation & Economic Policy

The Child Tax Credit’s Extra Benefits are Ending Just as More Parents are Scrambling for Child CareNew York Times

Why Isn’t Biden’s Expanded Child Tax Credit More Popular?New York Times

ELD Releases Interactive Data & Planning Tool

ELD Releases Interactive Data & Planning Tool

Oregon’s Early Learning Division has released the Early Learning Map for Oregon (ELMO), an interactive data and planning tool that can help schools, community and state agencies, Early Learning Hubs, advocacy groups, and other early learning partners to plan and improve upon early care and education in their region and across the state.

“This is an incredible resource that can support innovative and important cross-sector solutions for the early learning system’s most persistent challenges,” says Marina Merrill, director of research and evaluation at Children’s Institute. “The tool can help us look at access to quality and affordable child care; health and educational needs across communities; supporting the early learning workforce in effective ways; and addressing the needs of families who are facing multiple risk factors like poverty, unemployment, and lack of affordable housing.”

ELMO includes nearly 50 data indicators in the areas of community and family characteristics; early learning and child care program types, quality, and capacity; early learning workforce information; school readiness and success indicators; support services for families; and community risk and resiliency factors. In most cases, this data can be shown on the map at the county, Early Learning Hub, Child Care Resource & Referral district, school district, elementary school catchment area, zip code, and census tract level.

ELMO map showing numbers of children and early learning providers speaking a language other than English

This map of Oregon by county, created using ELMO, shows numbers of children and early childhood providers speaking a language other than English.

ELMO will be an invaluable tool, helping early learning advocates plan and learn by understanding strengths and needs across the state, but the ELD is clear that there are some things the tool was not designed to do. Since the datasets are only updated annually or as they become available, ELMO does not serve as a monitoring and accountability tool. It also cannot help families with things like finding open program slots or determining eligibility.

For more information and to try ELMO for yourself, you can access the tool directly through the Early Learning Division.


Child Care Crisis Central in National News

Child Care Crisis Central in National News

As the country limps into the twenty-first month of the COVID-19 pandemic, much national attention remains on our failing child care system, a system which is now widely recognized to be an essential piece of the country’s infrastructure — not only supporting healthy experiences during a child’s first years, but also allowing parents to return to work.

President Biden has shown commitment to supporting the system at the federal level, with robust investments in children and families showing up in every version of his proposed budget package. But despite the fact that the importance of early childhood has become a bipartisan value, legislation to fund child care and other family supports is at the center of national conversation as the budget bill struggles to pass.

We’ve rounded up some of the latest reporting on the child care crisis for you here.

U.S. Child Care System Presents Unique Difficulties

Parents and providers face systemic challenges to meet child care needs across the country. The following pieces discuss the history and culture that brought us to this moment, and outline the possible path forward.

Opinion: Why Is Raising a Child in the United States So Hard?

How Other Nations Pay for Child Care. The U.S. is an Outlier

Can We Fix America’s Child Care Crisis? States Implement Solutions to Avert Disaster

Federal Budget Proposal Responds to Crisis

Historic legislation at the federal level is on track to massively improve the experiences of children, their families, and their earliest educators. The movement is building to recognize child care as a vital part of our nation’s infrastructure! Read the pieces below for a good sense of what early childhood advocates are pleased to see in President Biden’s budget plan.

Exacerbated by Pandemic, Child Care Crisis Hampers Economy

Here’s What is in the $1.75 Trillion Biden Budget Plan

Childcare and Prekindergarten in The Build Back Better Act: A Guide for Policymakers

There is Still Work Ahead

These reforms are not a done deal. Support for early care and education is a broadly bipartisan priority, but this legislation is not happening in a political vacuum. These pieces give context to the current moment.

Crucial Elements of Spending Plan Remain in Flux After Biden’s Appeal to Democrats

Opinion: Biden’s Finishing what Obama Started with Early Learning

Democrats Want to Bolster Working Women, but Face Tortuous Choices

Stay Up to Date

Children’s Institute is glad to see the attention national media and policymakers are paying to the reforms and investments that will strengthen our nation’s child care and early education system, so that every parent is able to make the choices that best support their children’s healthy development. We will continue to connect our audience with the national conversation.