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Advocates for Early Childhood Gather in Salem

Advocates for Early Childhood Gather in Salem

Early Childhood Lobby Day 2020Yesterday, Children’s Institute staff joined advocates, child care providers, educators, and parents from across the state for Early Childhood Advocacy Day. More than 30 attendees representing 15 districts gathered in Salem to thank legislators for significant investments in early childhood programs and services passed in 2019 and remind them that their work to improve the lives of young kids and families isn’t done yet.

Parents from Yoncalla and Superintendent Brian Berry shared how Preschool Promise, parenting education, and early childhood special education is transforming not only their children and parents, but their whole community. Now there is a wait list at the Yoncalla preschool. Relief Nursery parents and staff shared their excitement about the opening of a new Nursery in the small town of Monroe, Oregon, but shared their challenges in retaining qualified staff with such low wages. Parents from North Portland shared their hopes to bring preschool to Rosa Parks Elementary School and other Title I schools in the district. 

During their meetings with legislators, attendees also talked about the impacts of last year’s historic $200 million investment in early childhood programs and services and new funding for universally available home visiting. Thanks to this new annual funding, Preschool Promise will serve an additional 2,500 children, Oregon Pre-kindergarten will offer enhanced services to 8,100 kids, Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education will offer enhanced services to 13,583 kids, Relief Nurseries will serve an additional 710 kids, the Early Childhood Equity Fund will provide culturally specific services for 2,500 kids and families, and universally offered home visiting will be available in 16 counties.

But we still have work to do to ensure all children have what they need to succeed. This year, parents and providers reminded their lawmakers that more than 20,000 eligible children still lack access to publicly funded preschool; less than 20 percent of eligible families can access home visiting, Relief Nurseries, and other family support programs; and our state is in the midst of a child care crisis.

While the Early Childhood Coalition is not asking the legislature for any new investments during this year’s short session, the group of nearly 40 state and national organizations is looking ahead to 2021 to continue to expand access to high-quality early learning and find solutions for Oregon’s growing child care crisis.

If state investments in the programs and services that support young children are important to your family, make sure you sign up for our newsletter. You’ll receive the latest news on early childhood in Oregon and opportunities to share what matters most to you.

Why We’ve Added Pronouns to Our Email Signatures and Website

As part of our commitment to creating an inclusive work environment, Children’s Institute now gives staff the option of including their pronouns in their email signatures and staff pages. This post is intended to serve as a resource for anyone with questions about this decision.

CI Aims to be a Safe Space for People of All Gender Identities

We recognize that using a person’s self-identified pronouns is a sign of respect. By creating space in our email signatures, staff bios, and meetings for people to share their pronouns, we empower our staff and colleagues to decide for themselves how they are referred to in the workplace. Sharing pronouns is also a way for us to avoid making assumptions about people’s identity based on their name or appearance. Assumptions like these harm our transgender, nonbinary, genderqueer, and gender nonconforming colleagues and reinforce cisgender privilege. Normalizing the practice of sharing our pronouns helps to disrupt this privilege.

As part of our work to create a more inclusive workplace, we will avoid gender assumptions in other areas of our communications, favoring gender inclusive language such as the use of “they” as a singular gender neutral pronoun. These changes demonstrate our belief that language choices both reflect and help to shape culture.

If you have questions, comments, or resources you would like to share, please send them to

Additional Resources

Pronouns Matter,

11 Cisgender Privileges You Didn’t Know You Had, Pride

LGBTQ+ Vocabulary Glossary of Terms, The Safe Zone Project

The Singular ‘They’: A Sociocultural Linguist’s View, The Oregonian

Actually, Gender-Neutral Pronouns Can Change a Culture, Wired

He, She, They: Workplaces Adjust as Gender Identity Norms Change, NPR

Oregon Legislature Announces Members of a Child Care Task Force

Oregon Legislature Announces Members of a Child Care Task Force

Children’s Institute President & CEO Swati Adarkar will serve on a legislative task force charged with evaluating Oregon’s current child care system and proposing solutions that will ensure all families have access to stable, quality child care that meets their needs by 2025. The Joint Task Force on Access to Quality Affordable Child Care, formed following last year’s passage of HB 2346, includes state lawmakers, early care and education providers, early childhood and family advocates, business leaders, and parents.

  • Senator Tim Knopp
  • Senator Kathleen Taylor
  • Representative Cedric Hayden
  • Representative Karin Power
  • Swati Adarkar, President & CEO, Children’s Institute
  • Miriam Calderon, Early Learning System Director, Early Learning Division
  • Brenda Comini, Early Learning Hub Director, Better Together Central Oregon
  • Josie Emmrich, Owner & Lead Teacher, Loving Beginnings Preschool and Child Care
  • Regan Gray, Child Care Policy Advisor, Family Forward
  • Dan Haun, Self-Sufficiency Program Director, Oregon Dept. of Human Services
  • Ron Herndon, Director, Albina Head Start
  • Natalie Jackson, Child Care Director, SEIU503
  • Jenny Lee, Advocacy Director, APANO
  • Yolanda Morales, Parent, Eastern Oregon Child Care Resource & Referral
  • Marie Simonds, Program Manager, Wild Rivers Coast Alliance
  • Elanna Yalow, Chief Academic Officer, KinderCare

The child care task force was approved last year in response to Oregon’s growing child care crisis: the entire state has been designated a child care desert for kids ages 0–2 and the median price of full-time care for an infant is more than a year of public college tuition.

HB 2346 also directs Oregon’s Early Learning Division to examine our child care system. The ELD recently released the first of three reports, “The State of Early Care & Education and Child Care Assistance in Oregon.”


Why Are Kindergarten Teachers Quitting?

Why Are Kindergarten Teachers Quitting?

“I have been a teacher’s aide for 15 years… We are asking these 5- and 6-year-olds to do things that they are not emotionally able to do, and we are now seeing many young children with anxiety.”

Psychology Today recently published a collection of comments from kindergarten teachers describing their frustrations with developmentally inappropriate teaching practices. The comments, compiled by educational researcher Peter Gray, were originally posted in response to an article describing protests among kindergarten teachers in Brookline, Massachusetts against school district policies and curriculum emphasizing drills and tests at the expense of creativity and play. 

“Kindergarten should be a transition—with plenty of play and student-centered learning—from nursery to first-grade academic curriculum, but instead children are forgoing that transition. They are being thrown into a structured environment that is requiring them to be mini robots. They have to sit for extended periods of time (even adults find that hard), they have to use ‘brain’ power without the aid of free movement to stave off boredom. They are not required to use their imaginations or ask questions that stimulate interaction with teachers and peers. … Kindergarten classrooms shouldn’t have desks and chairs; they should have centers, reading nooks, educational and fun games, and space to explore.” 

“I’ve seen a rise in anxiety in my kids, avoidance of tasks that are ‘too hard,’ and some pretty impressive breakdowns or meltdowns. I’ve also seen a drop in executive function, imagination, and ability to sit and focus…. I have to give them about 13 different required formal tests throughout the year. Thirteen! I’m seeing assessment fatigue. Who knew five- and six-year-olds could burn out? They certainly can, and I worry about how they’ll continue through school for the 12 years after I have them.”

Through our Early School Success initiative, launched in the Beaverton and Forest Grove School Districts, we’re working with teachers and families to ensure young children are taught in developmentally appropriate ways and supported as they transition from preschool into the elementary school.

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