Health and Kindergarten Readiness

Health and Kindergarten Readiness

Children’s Institute (CI) has been examining the role of health and the healthcare system in helping make sure young children are ready to enter kindergarten. When kids are healthy, they are better able to learn and thrive in school and life. With support from the Oregon Health Authority, CI recently convened a Health Aspects of Kindergarten Readiness Technical Workgroup to recommend one or more health system quality metrics to Oregon’s Metrics and Scoring Committee.

The recommendations are intended to drive behavior change for health providers and the healthcare system, quality improvement, and investments in the health system that will contribute to improved kindergarten readiness for children in Oregon. We hope they will work to catalyze cross-sector collaboration for achieving kindergarten readiness and be consistent with the existing metrics program for Oregon’s Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs).

The workgroup also identified opportunities to develop future measures to stimulate greater movement toward improved kindergarten readiness.



For the first phase of the project, Children’s Institute collaborated with Portland State University to carry out the Kindergarten Readiness Family Focus Group Project. Focus groups were designed to explore what kindergarten readiness means to families, and what improvements they would like to see in health services and early learning programs that would contribute to kindergarten readiness. The purpose of the project was to collect data from parents and caregivers to inform the Health Aspects of Kindergarten Readiness Technical Workgroup and other statewide initiatives aimed at improving kindergarten readiness.

The communities and participants selected for the focus groups were identified to represent cultural, linguistic, and geographic diversity. Children’s Institute, the Center for Improvement of Child & Family Services, or stakeholder partners already had existing relationships in selected communities and outreach was conducted through our existing networks. Most participating families were already engaged in, and recruited through, high-quality early learning program and services.

Project Contact

Elena Rivera
Senior Health Policy
and Program Advisor

Workgroup Members

Dick Barsotti
Metropolitan Pediatrics

Helen Bellanca
Associate Medical Director
Health Share of Oregon

Suzanne Dinsmore
Childhood Health Associates (Salem)

Susan Fischer
Health and Education Integration Coordinator
AllCare Health

Xin Gao
Early Childhood Education Specialist
Oregon Child Development Coalition

Lisa Harnisch
Executive Director
Marion and Polk Early Learning Hub

Julie Harris
Director of Quality Programs
Children’s Health Alliance and
Children’s Health Foundation

Nicole Jepeal
Quality Improvement Analytics Supervisor

Sharity Ludwig
Director of Community Dental Programs
Advantage Dental

Rebeca Márquez
Community Health Worker
Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization

Alison Martin
Assessment and Evaluation Coordinator
Oregon Center for Children and Youth with Special Needs

Ashley Oakley
Early Childhood Policy Advocate
Native American Youth and Family Center

Sara Ruiz Weight
Parent, Preschool Classroom Aide
Yoncalla Elementary School

Maureen Seferovich
Child Provider Services Supervisor
Washington County Health and Human Services

Charles Smith
Program Director
Black Parent Initiative (formerly)

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