Family Forward Action and our nonprofit sister organization, Family Forward Oregon, are so proud and excited to share our support for Preschool for All: YES on Measure 26-214.
In the middle of a global pandemic that has shattered our child care industry and preschool programs, Preschool for All is a thoughtful local plan for high-quality, tuition-free preschool that was developed with providers and families of color, and with a commitment to racial justice that prioritizes Black, Indigenous, and children and providers of color.
Despite recent commitments by school districts and state leaders to increase investment in education, the Portland area is falling behind other communities in preschool affordability and access. In Multnomah County:
- We have the fourth most expensive child care in the United States
- Only 15% of preschool slots are publicly funded
- Preschool teachers make half of the median kindergarten teacher salary
- There is a severe shortage of preschool facilities and qualified teachers
Preschool for All would create a stable source of funding so we no longer have to depend on tuition paid by working families (who are struggling to make ends meet themselves). It will provide a living wage for early education workers, who are severely underpaid and often cannot afford to stay in the field, contributing to higher turnover and lower quality preschool education. With fair compensation and professional support, we can keep talented teachers in the field, leading to better outcomes for children.
While building toward a fully universal system with the capacity to meet the needs of every 3 and 4-year-old in Multnomah County, the Preschool for All first prioritizes BIPOC children, children who speak languages other than English, children experiencing poverty, and children with developmental delays and disabilities. Preschool for All is intentionally focused on addressing the systemic inequities in our early learning system, by prioritizing who is served first, and including multi-generational and culturally specific early learning programs.
Preschool for All will allow parents to choose the qualified preschool program that works best for their child and family. Options will include public, private, home-based, center-based, and community-based providers. It was also crafted to respond to the realities of working families and will offer full year and school year options, and funding for working families who need before and after school care.
As the cracks in our systems of care are further exposed by COVID-19, Preschool for All responds to this important moment. The program would build a more sustainable network of providers who care for our community’s children—a system better equipped to withstand future economic challenges—and it will build an equitable program that responds to the needs of parents and children. We urge you to support the work of over 100 Multnomah County public, private, and social sector leaders, community members, and preschool providers and vote YES on Measure 26-214.
You can get involved with the campaign and help pass this historic measure by visiting preschoolforall.org.