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MailTribune.com
  • Preparations begin for regional Early Learning Hub

  • Starting this fall, the Southern Oregon Early Learning Hub will come along side local service organizations to coordinate their efforts and, ultimately, help prepare young children for kindergarten.
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  • Starting this fall, the Southern Oregon Early Learning Hub will come along side local service organizations to coordinate their efforts and, ultimately, help prepare young children for kindergarten.
    The local hub will coordinate services to more than 16,000 at-risk children, ages 6 and under, living in either Jackson or Josephine County.
    The state's Early Learning Council approved the applications of eight hubs statewide, including the Southern Oregon hub, at the end of June and the applications of six other hubs last November.
    "The hub's role is to maximize resources and bring about efficiency in the early childhood and early learning communities," said Scott Perry, superintendent of the Southern Oregon Education Service District, which made the successful local application.
    The Southern Oregon Early Learning Hub will work with the children and their families and, depending on their needs, will connect them with early learning, health care and social service organizations in the area. That includes Southern Oregon Head Start, Jackson County Public Health, All Care Health Plan, Jackson County Early Intervention, OnTrack Inc., ACCESS and the Family Nurturing Center, among others.
    The hub is responsible for gathering data from the agencies, encouraging dialogue between agencies, disseminating information about best practices, offering training, and tracking down grants and additional funding, said Susan Fischer, the interim Early Childhood System Facilitator.
    Fischer said the early learning hub's three primary goals are to help children be socially, emotionally and academically ready to begin kindergarten; to ensure every child is being raised in a safe and stable family; and to coordinate an efficient early childhood system.
    While their services remain the same, each organization will have to adjust how it collects data and networks with other agencies, said Nancy Nordyke, director of Southern Oregon Head Start.
    State dollars that previously were passed through local commissions to service organizations will now be channeled through the hub.
    Fischer said the hub will receive about $50,000 in start-up funding from the state, as well as about $248,500 to hire four full-time employees and one part-time administrator. The hub's estimated budget will about $1.3 million, most of which will be used to support existing services.
    "No organization will see a reduction in the dollars they'll receive in the current year of this biennium," she said.
    Organizations that will receive funding through the hub will be subject to quarterly reviews, as well as site visits from members of the hub's executive council, made up of parents, people involved in early childhood programs and representatives from the medical, educational and government sectors, Fischer said.
    The hub model, established under House Bill 2013, is intended to boost Gov. John Kitzhaber's "40-40-20" goal, in which 40 percent of adult Oregonians will hold at least a bachelor's degree, 40 percent will hold an associate degree or postsecondary certificate, and the remaining 20 percent will hold a high school diploma or equivalent.
    "Governor Kitzhaber wants to streamline and make the early learning system in Oregon more efficient and effective," Perry said. "If we are going to achieve that 40-40-20 goal, then we are going to have to impact young children now."
    Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.
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