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PSU Early Childhood Council promotes Multnomah County Preschool for All initiative
Author: Nancy Eichsteadt
Posted: February 12, 2018

GSE Dean's Fund for Excellence helps launch a new county-wide preschool project

Toddlers on PSU campusAssistant Professor of Practice Ingrid Anderson in the Graduate School of Education has two goals: make affordable preschool available for all of Multnomah County and ensure that families experience preschools that are free from racism, bias, and discrimination.

In October 2017, Anderson, who supports the work of PSU’s interdisciplinary Early Childhood Council, co-convened stakeholders in an event to discuss interest in supporting affordable preschool for all Multnomah County children, ages 3 to 5 years old. Over 200 attendees participated in the day-long symposium that drew officials from state and county agencies. They were overwhelmingly in favor of moving forward.

The Dean’s Fund for Excellence provided Anderson and GSE partners with key start-up funding to begin exploring the project. She will engage resources in a survey of large cities like Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle that already have universal preschool programs in place. Once data is collected, her team will analyze it to discover common successful patterns, conduct a literature review, and write a white paper focused on city and county models of culturally responsive preschools working to support community-informed equity investments.

Primary to Anderson’s effort is building a program that not only allows for equitable access but is also grounded in a Funds of Knowledge Framework—local sociocultural research and practices that build on resources already in place and familiar to the community.

“This will be the basis to go after larger external grants like Meyer Memorial Trust and the Kellogg Foundation that will help us implement programs that honor all children as capable and full of promise,” Anderson said. “The programs need to have parent voice at the center of the conversation leading the design that addresses the discrimination some families face because of their language, gender, or disabilities.” Anderson said the goal is to continue the dean’s, the University’s, and the Early Childhood Council’s work toward equitable access for early childhood in Multnomah County to eliminate barriers to children reaching their full potential. The goal is to build programs that are family and community visions of early education.

In addition to the Graduate School of Education, project partners in Preschool for All include Portland State University’s Early Childhood Council, the PSU School of Social Work, PSU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Social Venture Partners, and United Way Early Learning.

Anderson hopes that coordinated efforts will support operational countywide early childhood education by the year 2020.