Pre-school access expands under Oregon bill

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Megan Gorecki said getting her kids into preschool has been almost impossible. She makes too much to qualify for assistance, but not enough to afford it out of pocket.

“Not being able to get her into preschool was so frustrating because I felt like I was failing my daughter,” Gorecki told KOIN 6 News. “I was calling people and talking to people and not being able to get her into preschool.”

But new legislation now on Gov. Kate Brown’s desk will make more funding available to families, including those really struggling.

Swati Adarkar of the Children's Institute, July 8, 2015 (KOIN)

“It allows a mix of programs that meet quality standards, to apply for state funding to offer preschool to low income (families of) 3- and 4-year-olds,” said Swati Adarkar of the Children’s Institute.

The funding will roll out over the next 2 years and mandates that preschools meet quality standards, “things like classroom ratios, teacher qualificiations, and things along those lines,” she said. “The other thing is being able to meet the needs of a diverse population.”

The funding will provide about 1500 more kids the ability to attend preschool or Head Start programs.

Currently, Oregon has 32,000 low income children without access to high quality preschool.

“All the evidence really shows, particularly for low income kids, you need that level of dosage to really address some of those opportunities and achievement gaps,” Adarkar said.

Megan Gorecki agrees.

“To get them ready for kindergarten is huge!”

Inside a classroom at Earl Boyles Elementary School in Southeast Portland, July 8, 2015 (KOIN)

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