U.S. announces preschool study grant for North Coast

ASTORIA, Ore. — The Way to Wellville, on behalf of Clatsop and Tillamook counties, received a welcome Christmas gift in the form of a Preschool Development Grant. The $350,000 Pay for Success program grant was announced by the U.S. Department of Education. The federal funds actually will go to Clatsop County, which will administer the grant for The Way to Wellville.

The grant will fund a feasibility study of establishing preschool in the two counties. The study will be conducted by the Way to Wellville – Clatsop County.

We are very excited to be a community partner and stakeholder in this grant said Mimi Haley, Executive Director, for Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization, which is the sponsor of The Way to Wellville. “We know that good education plays such an important role in a lifetime of well-being, and that preschool is a proven way to get kids started off prepared and able to learn.”

The study team will develop the details necessary to establish up to 600 free preschool positions for children of the two counties, according to Dan Gaffney, chair of the Way to Wellville Strategic Advisory Council and coordinator for Clatsop Kinder Ready, a countywide consortium.

As envisioned in the grant application, the program will be for children who qualify for free and reduced-cost lunch, children from families earning up to three times the threshold for the lunch programs, and for children learning English as a second language.

Among the issues to be considered in the study are transportation for the children and compensation for the teachers, Gaffney said.

“Being rural counties we recognize the need for affordable, ongoing, high-quality professional development and higher wages for preschool teachers as well as transportation for children attending preschool,” he said.

The study will commence in the spring of 2017. It is expected to take six to nine months, at which time operational funding will be sought. Parents of children who will benefit from the preschools can expect to be an important part of the study.

“We will reach out to parents, current preschool providers, elementary schools, local health care providers and others touching the lives of our youngest population to determine how best to engage children and their families in high quality preschool,” Gaffney said.

Haley noted that the grant opens up possibilities for all children in the two counties, and Columbia County as well, because it supports the goals of the regional Early Learning Hub.

“It will potentially create a pathway for sustainable funding allowing all children in Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties to access quality pre-school education,” Haley said. “The commitment and collaboration of the Wellville Strategic Advisory Council with regional stakeholders was a key component of the success of this grant being awarded by the Department of Education.”



  • For information about this story, contact Sydney VanDusen, The Way to Wellville, 503-416-1781, vandusens@careoregon.org
  • For information about Columbia Pacific CCO or The Way to Wellville, contact Patti Atkins, Communications Consultant, 503-961-2535, patti@prpatti.com.

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