Policy Resource

Oregon Early Learning Hubs

Feb 9, 2016

Oregon passed a major early childhood bill in March, 2012 to improve coordination among early childhood programs.

House Bill 4165 eliminated the Oregon Commission on Children and Families and the Oregon Commission on Child Care, transferring the programs to the newly established Early Learning Council (ELC). In February 2013, the ELC submitted a proposal for a global budgeting approach for early learning services to the legislature.

  1. House Bill 3234 created a new Early Learning Division within the Department of Education, consolidating the administration of key early childhood programs such as Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten, Healthy Start and child-care licensing.
  2. Among other initiatives, House Bill 2013 also launched sixteen regional Early Learning Hubs through which communities are to coordinate and tailor early learning. Regional hubs replaced the existing county-level commissions on children and families to convene and coordinate early learning services locally. House Bill 2013, allowed for the ELC to implement up to seven Hubs in fiscal year 2013 and up to nine more in fiscal year 2014. Each hub receives approximately $5 million a year to complete their work (85% of which must be used to provide direct services). The hubs engage local residents in planning to ensure services are meeting community needs.

The Early Learning Hubs are not intended to be direct service providers and have a statutory requirement to carry out the following activities:

  • Coordinate the provision of early learning services to the community served by the Hub;
  • Include service providers, parents, community members, county governments, school districts, and other stakeholders in the creation of the Hub;
  • Align services coordinated by the Hub with the services provided by public schools;
  • Align services coordinated by the Hub with services provided by Coordinated Care Organizations and county public health departments;
  • Integrate efforts across health, K-12 education, human services, early education, and the business community using coordinated and transparent budgeting, and through a governing body with representation of each of the above sectors as well as parents of children using early learning services;
  • Demonstrate an ability to improve results for at-risk children;
  • Leverage additional private and public funds including in-kind support; and
  • Keep administrative overhead at 15 percent or less.

In August 2013, the ELC released a Request for Applications (RFA) for the first round of Hubs with the RFAs due in October of that year. Applications were scored by a twenty-six member evaluation team comprised of Early Learning Council members and representatives from the Oregon Health Authority, the Department of Human Services, the Oregon Department of Education, and the Department of Administrative Services. The Award Team made the final recommendations to the Early Learning Council. The process for designating Hubs was repeated with a second Request for Applicants released in April, 2014 and recommendations by the Award Team made to the Early Learning Council in June, 2014. By the end of 2015 all sixteen contracts were fully executed, the maximum number allowed under House Bill 2013.

Between 2013 and 2015 the ELC worked collaboratively with the successful applicants to establish the functions and statutory goals of the Hubs. While Early Learning Hubs take different forms, reflecting the needs, resources, and values of their communities, the three statutory goals provide a unifying focus:

  • An early learning system that is aligned, coordinated, and family centered.
  • Children that arrive at kindergarten ready and supported for success.
  • Families that are healthy, stable, and attached.

Early Learning Hubs are helping communities achieve these goals through a collective impact model in which their primary responsibilities are to:

  • Develop a common vision and strategic agenda that is shared across five sectors: early learning, health, human services, K-12 education, and private sector partners;
  • Early Learning Hub Legislative Report;
  • Bring these sectors together to align strategies and resources, and pursue collaborative initiatives;
  • Engage parents and families so that Oregon’s early learning vision and agenda is guided by family voice;
  • Coordinate services, communication and data sharing across sectors; and
  • Measure and evaluate progress through a shared set of metrics and indicators developed in 2017.

Leadership, consensus building, conflict resolution and decision-making skills are needed by Hubs and will be important in ensuring sustainability. The direct provision of services is not, and should not be, a core function of Hubs. Hubs have addressed this by separating their collaborative and coordination responsibilities from direct service provisions in Hubs where the backbone organization is also a direct service provider.

All Hubs received one-time startup funds of $50,000 and receive monthly coordination funds based on the number of at-risk children for which they expect to coordinate Services. Hub start-up funds come from the sunset of a 20-year old, county-based commission on children and families program. Similarly, Hub monthly coordination funds come from restructured former commission on children and families general funding. Federal Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant funding also supported start-up and infrastructure-building costs.

Reviewed May 2018.

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