Childcare pilot program gaining support

ROGUE VALLEY, Ore. – A pilot program based here in the Rogue Valley is gaining steam in Salem.

It would provide families with kids under the age of 5 with resources and services to ensure every child enters kindergarten with an equal opportunity to thrive.

“If a child enters kindergarten socially and emotionally able to learn, ready to learn, their 3rd-grade reading scores are better, their high school graduation rates are better, their life outcomes are better,” Southern Oregon Success Program Manager Peter Buckley said.

Buckley, a former Ashland State Representative, worked with his successor Pam Marsh to come up with House Bill 2726.

It would provide the program with $5 million in funding each year for the next five years.

Even without government funding, the program has secured enough money to launch this April and hopes to be the first of many networks across the state.

“What we want to do is set the model that the rest of the state can emulate,” Marsh said. “We are way ahead of this in Southern Oregon. So, if we have some money, we are primed to test a model that then we can replicate in other places.”

Marsh said that the Rogue Valley has a problem with generational issues, like poverty or a lack of education.

She said that creates a cycle of kids growing up and having the same problems their parents had.

“The way you break that cycle is to give people support at the most vulnerable time in a child’s life and that is from zero to five,” Marsh said. “And when you do that, you stabilize the kiddo, but you also stabilize the family, and the family is always going to be the most important influence for a child.”

The first hearing for HB 2726 will be on Monday.

Buckley said that he is very optimistic the bill could pass because it has support from other legislators.

The goal right now is to get it to the budget committee where they can decide how much funding the program will receive.

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Ethan McReynolds is a reporter and weekend anchor for NBC5 News. He grew up in Bothell, Washington and graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Broadcasting and minors in Journalism and Sport Management. At Gonzaga, he started his own sports podcast. Ethan loves rooting for his hometown Seattle sports teams, especially the Mariners. He loves playing baseball, basketball, and soccer. He is also an avid Taylor Swift fan.
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