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Once again, host Rafael Otto speaks with Leslee Barnes, Director of the Preschool and Early Learning Division at Multnomah County, who gives us an update on the implementation of Preschool for All (PFA). Barnes is a fourth-generation Oregonian who grew up in Northeast Portland, and a leading figure, working alongside commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson in the development of Preschool for All which was approved by voters in November 2020.
Barnes begins by discussing the demands, challenges, successes, and the greatest surprise in the implementation of Preschool for All. She then notes how culturally and linguistically diverse providers are supported in their participation, and ultimately whether PFA will help everyone involved. This includes the growing educational workforce, which would ideally reflect the diversity of families. Then, Rafael brings up the issue of facilities. Specifically, knowing lack of them was a roadblock in getting PFA off the ground, how they will be supported this time around. Next, they discuss how PFA’s rollout and the upcoming ban on suspension and expulsion could potentially interrelate, and how lessons learned at these early stages could inform not only statewide work, but potential expansions to other countries.
Barnes then closes the episode with advice she would give to other local leaders about launching and implementing PFA, and what it would ideally look and feel like once up and running.
Rafael Otto, Director of Communications, Children’s Institute
~ Thanks to Children’s Institute, working to ensure that every child in Oregon has the best start in life
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