Media Room

REMARKS AS PREPARED
Head Start Association Talking Points
Feb. 3, 2016

Thank you, Donna. I want to thank all of you here today for your leadership on behalf of Oregon’s children.

As many of you experience on the frontlines, Head Start not only works, but it saves lives too.

Saves lives. Those are precisely the words that Heather, a parent from Clackamas County, would tell you about how Head Start empowered her and her two sons.

Once homeless, Heather was traumatized and scared as she fought for her and her sons’ lives. She said she lacked the skills to create the stability her family needed. That’s when she enrolled her boys in Head Start.

There she encountered kindhearted staff who encouraged her to get involved with the program. She began taking parenting and cooking classes, and became involved in social functions and the policy council.

As her boys thrived, so did she. One son is a bilingual kindergartner who is doing multiplication, and her 4-year-old has consistency and works with his same teacher. Heather has now taken a leadership role and serves as the chair of her Head Start policy council, and wants to implement a parent mentorship program.

She says, “The biggest surprise in all that I’ve learned is how to take my own power back as a woman and as a mother.”

Heather’s story gives me hope. As your Governor, I am committed to building a seamless system of education and healthy, vibrant communities that extend opportunities for all Oregonians to reach their full potential.

Ensuring access to high-quality early learning opportunities is the first, critical step to empower every child on their journey to achieve their highest hopes and aspirations.

My vision for their education is clear: every child in Oregon graduates high school with a plan for his or her future.  This begins with every child experiencing the compassion, care and support they deserve, and being prepared to enter school ready to learn.

I am proud of the work we have done together this past year to make high-quality early learning opportunities more accessible and affordable.

We worked together to secure $100 million in new investments in early learning – to expand access to Head Start and extend critical supports children, parents and families need and deserve.

While we have made extraordinary strides, we still have more work to do. And like you, I am fully committed to this task.

Our work is grounded in our shared commitment to help each child, their parents, their family on the path to achieve each child’s hopes and dreams.

Continuing to approach our work through an Equity Lens ensures that regardless of a child’s background, his or her culture, language, or zip code, we demonstrate every day our full commitment to them and their future. 

I believe we have it within our power to close the opportunity gap once and for all – an opportunity gap that has persisted for too long across too many communities in Oregon.

In closing, I want to thank you for your leadership and the amazing work you do to support every Oregon child. You are on the ground each day empowering families and saving lives.