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The Early Learning Hubs make resources and supports and more effective for children and families that have historically been overrepresented in the opportunity gap and underrepresented in services.  Each Hub identifies the underserved children in their region, evaluates the needs of those children and families, and then works to ensure that programs and services reach them and effectively meet their needs. Hubs are building outcomes-focused collaborations across K-12 schools, early education, health, human services and business.

Southern Oregon has one of the highest school dropout rates in the country. Southern Oregon Early Learning Services Hub is a system-builder committed to changing that. Recognizing the need to begin at birth, the many organizations that make up the Hub are working together to reach 3 common goals.

  1. Children grow up in stable, healthy attached families.
  2. Children enter Kindergarten ready to learn.
  3. We have an aligned, effective and coordinated system for supporting children and families.

Jackson and Josephine Counties have a regional population of 19,075 children birth to age six. SOELS focuses on 17,330 children birth to age six within the two county region who were determined to be able to benefit from services due their families experiencing challenging conditions with finances, housing, addiction, mental health, and similar important issues.

What We Do

SOELS does not provide direct services to children and families. Instead, we function as a system-builder and bring together community leaders from early childhood education, health care, K-12 education, social services, private sector business, and parents to build strong partnerships to create effective and aligned programs that promote school readiness and family stability. SOELS invests early learning dollars into the region based upon these critical partner collaborations. In doing so, expertise and resources can be shared to strengthen regional services and supports, avoid duplication, and provide a network of support so families with young children feel connected to the community they live in.

The Need

Oregon ranks 46th in providing early learning services to 3 to 5 year olds and 48th in high school graduation. In our region, only 31% of children have early learning opportunities prior to kindergarten entry. Children living in households experiencing the stressors listed above, tend to have language acquisition gaps compared to their peers experiencing fewer stressors. If a child does not have access to as much language and has not had a reading-rich environment, they may already be two grades behind by third grade. Third grade reading levels predict high school graduation rates. Kindergarten through third-grade is focused on learning to read. Beginning in grade four, the focus shifts to reading to learn. A child who is already behind is less likely to catch up, more likely to feel they are not good at school, and more likely to dropout. Without the coordinated support of our system partners, that cycle is likely to repeat itself for generations.

Who does SOELS serve?

Jackson and Josephine Counties have a regional population of 19,075 children birth to age six.  SOELS focuses on 17,330 children birth to age six within the two county region who were determined to be able to benefit from services due their families experiencing challenging conditions with finances, housing, addiction, mental health, and similar important issue

Goal 1: The early childhood system is aligned, coordinated, and family-centered

  • Common vision and agenda for focus population of children across 5 sectors (health, human services, K-3 education, early learning programs and business.
  • Catalytic and transformative leadership
  • All 5 sectors demonstrate alignment of agendas, strategies, and resources.
  • Partners share data and information.
  • All 5 sectors demonstrate coordination of activities.
  • The voices of families and communities served by the Hub guide the work.
  • Family resource management function has been developed.
  • Disparities in access to services and supports are reduced and services and supports are culturally responsive.

Goal 2: Children are supported to enter school ready to succeed

  • Children arrive at Kindergarten with social-emotional, language, and cognitive skills that will support their success in school.
  • Families are supported as their child’s first and most important teachers.
  • Early care and education programs and providers are equipped to promote positive child development.
  • Children and families experience aligned instructional practices and seamless transitions from early learning programs to kindergarten.
  • Disparities in outcomes from children of color and from low-income families are reduced.

Goal 3: Families are healthy, stable and attached

  • Families have positive physical and mental health, supported by access to high-quality health services.
  • Parents and families have the confidence, knowledge, and skills to support healthy attachment and the positive development of the children in their care.
  • Families have adequate resources to meet their needs, such as housing and transportation and supports to strengthen their resilience to stress.
  • Working families have access to safe and affordable childcare that promotes positive child development.


PreSchool Promise

Less than 40% of preschool children in Jackson and Josephine counties are currently enrolled in early education programs. This alarming statistic will soon change, as an exciting new statewide program called Preschool Promise will begin in September 2016.

In 2015 Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed HB 3380, allocating $27 million to increase the number of quality preschool programs throughout the state. Southern Oregon Early Learning Services (SOELS) is one of six Early Learning Hubs chosen to receive funds for this exciting project. One hundred and seventy children in Jackson and Josephine counties who are three and four years of age will be offered quality preschool, free of charge. Children selected will be from families whose incomes are below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. Those families will be able to choose from an array of high quality preschools in which to enroll their children. Preschool Promise will permit families to choose the type of model they prefer, whether it is in an elementary school, a children’s Relief Nursery, family child care home, community preschool or another model. SOELS Preschool Promise programs are planned for communities stretching from Cave Junction to Phoenix.


Kindergarten Partnership and Innovation

Sixteen Kindergarten Partnership and Innovation (KPI) Projects have been funded across the state of Oregon with the common goal of improving school readiness and improving school success while reducing the achievement gap. Funded KPI projects are given flexibility to focus on one or more of the specified priorities:

  • Supporting kindergarten readiness skills and smooth transitions to kindergarten.
  • Increasing family engagement in children’s learning and connecting families and schools.
  • Providing professional development to early learning and/or elementary school professionals to improve knowledge and skills.
  • Increasing alignment, connection and collaboration in the preschool to Grade 3 system.

READY! for Kindergarten®

Created in 2002 as a joint project between the Kennewick School District and The Children’s Reading Foundation, Ready! for Kindergarten® is a program designed to assist parents in getting their children ready for kindergarten entry. Research had shown that students who entered kindergarten behind their peers were generally unable to catch up to their peers in the subsequent grades. No matter what types of interventions were used after entering school, the learning gap stayed basically the same for most of the students who had started kindergarten without the necessary skills.

Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting

The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program facilitates collaboration and partnership at the federal , state and community levels to improve health and development outcomes for at-risk children through evidence-based home visiting programs. The State of Oregon’s MIECHV team is tasked with both the implementation/expansion of three evidence-based Early Childhood Home Visiting models, and the development of a comprehensive Regional Home Visiting Network. The three models for Jackson County are Early Head Start, Nurse Family Partnerships and Healthy Families.

Oregon’s Quality Rating and Improvement System

QRIS is a star rating system that childcare programs can choose to participate in. They get a star rating from the QRIS by meeting standards that are good for children. To find out more about star ratings, click here.

Kaleidoscope Play and Learn

Program Description

Over the last several years, Kaleidoscope Play & Learn has been demonstrated as an effective strategy for reaching and engaging parents and caregivers. The Kaleidoscope Play & Learn model is particularly suited because research, as well as our experience, has shown that these caregivers prefer this type of support and learning to formal training.

Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups are facilitated play groups for young children and their family, caregivers and parents. Groups are run by community organizations, in a variety of neighborhood locations, including libraries, community centers, and apartment rec rooms and schools. Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups meet weekly for 1 ½ -2 hours. All groups have a trained facilitator, who sets up a variety of activities and provides information and guidance to participants.

While Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups are seen by participants as a fun way to get together with other children and caregivers, the intent of Kaleidoscope Play & Learn is to get information and support to family and caregivers to help them support early learning and healthy development of the children in their care. Children are only at Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups for a couple of hours a week, where they play and learn new skills (particularly interacting with other children). However, the real impact of Kaleidoscope Play & Learn is in what the caregivers take away from the group and do at home with the children in their care. Through participating in Play & Learn, caregivers discover that children learn through play and daily activities; they increase understanding about how to support children’s early learning at home, and they gain confidence in their ability to prepare children for success in school and life.

Kaleidoscope Play & Learn is a model that was developed by Child Care Resources in Seattle, Washington. The model was developed using information gathered through five years’ of outcomes evaluation as well as practice in the field – learning through trial and error the different ways to run Play & Learn in a variety of settings and communities. Organizations using the Kaleidoscope Play & Learn model follow the Kaleidoscope Play & Learn Guidelines, standards based on what was learned through evaluation and practices as well as on widely recognized and accepted theories and best practices in the fields of child development; early learning; parent education; family, friend and neighbor care; community development; and cultural competency.

A facilitator, trained in the model, leads each Kaleidoscope Play & Learn group. The facilitator sets up activities, helps caregivers get to know each other, and connects caregivers with family support resources and other early learning opportunities in the community.

At each Kaleidoscope Play & Learn group there is:

  • Time for children and caregivers to participate together in open-ended, child-directed play at different play centers as well as in a planned, coordinated group activity
  • Intentional caregiver learning, which is done through facilitator modeling, coaching and guidance, brief lessons, or written materials
  • Time and opportunities for caregivers to interact and connect with each other
  • Opportunities for children to interact with each other
  • Opportunities for caregivers to develop leadership and to participate in the planning and running of the Kaleidoscope Play & Learn group

A typical Kaleidoscope Play & Learn session usually begins with time for the children and caregivers to enjoy informal play activities (such as blocks, dolls, books, art, etc.) set up by the facilitator.  At each station, a brief explanation is posted for the caregivers about the benefit of the activity.  The facilitators model for the caregivers how to interact with the children using the materials provided.  The facilitators introduce new experiences to children by playing with the materials themselves, and describing what they are doing and why, so the adults will better understand the value of the activity.  For example, at an art station, the facilitator might get on the floor and ask all of the adults and children to join her for finger painting.  The facilitator would begin to paint, while demonstrating and talking to the children and adults about how painting helps children explore lines, colors, shapes and textures; helps them express their thoughts and feelings; and helps develop their creative imagination.

Often, there is a brief circle time for children and a discussion time for the caregivers, who are encouraged to share questions and concerns and serve as resources for one another.  As interests are expressed or opportunities arise, the facilitator brings in additional resource people and materials to address specific concerns (i.e., child abuse & neglect, school enrollment, oral health) or plan field trips to connect with resource people and organizations.

Kaleidoscope Play & Learn Video

Background on How Kaleidoscope Play & Learn Supports Family, Friend and Neighbor Caregivers

Brain development research proves that the most crucial time for learning is from birth to five, making quality childcare and early learning experiences foundational for the future success of every child. Without it, children start behind and stay behind. Our community’s interest in helping all children get a good start in school and life has raised awareness of how important it is to provide information and resources to all people who care for children so that they can support early learning of the children in their care. If we are to reach all children, we must also reach and support their family, friend and neighbor caregivers.

Families choose family, friend and neighbor care for a variety of reasons: quality of care, convenience and flexibility of hours, family tradition. Many families choose this form of childcare because they want their children in the care of someone they know and trust – and who share their values, culture and language.

Caregivers, like other significant adults in children’s lives, want the best for the children in their care. They want their children to be prepared for school and to be healthy and happy. Caregivers and parents are eager to have opportunities to have their children play with other children. When asked, parents also indicate that they appreciate a chance to be with other adults caring for children and to learn more about how they can help the children grow, develop and learn.

Kaleidoscope Play & Learn is a strategy we use to support parents, caregivers and the children in their care, getting them the child development information and social connections they want for themselves and their children.

Intended Results and Outcomes

Our vision is that, as a result of participating Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups, parents and caregivers’ capacity and knowledge about healthy child development improves, and more young children will enter school ready to succeed.


Kaleidoscope Play & Learn is a model that works. As a result of participating in Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups, caregivers experienced these outcomes[1]:

  • 73 % increased knowledge “a lot more” in one evaluation area (eg, what to expect of children at different ages, how children learn through play, the importance of the caregiver’s role in helping the child be prepared for school, etc.)
  • 84% reported changing what they do “a lot more” with the children in their care in one evaluation area (eg, talking and doing activities, reading or looking at books, helping the child talk about and understand his/her feelings).
  • 55% reported decreased isolation “a lot more” through talking or sharing ideas about caregiving with another adult

[1] Summary of End of Year Play & Learn Participant Results, January-December 2009. Report prepared by Organizational Research Services for Child Care Resources.

Evaluation also indicates that the more times a family attends Play & Learn, the more positive the outcomes.

The evaluation also indicates that participation appears to be very beneficial for those from diverse linguistic and cultural groups as well as for family, friend and neighbor caregivers. This finding validates our approach in targeting immigrant families – who typically have a higher utilization rate of family, friend and neighbor care than other communities.

Community Partnerships

We are Affiliates of Kaleidoscope Play & Learn coordinated by Child Care Resources in Seattle, Washington. As Affiliates, we have agreed to abide by field-tested and evaluated Guidelines and to participate in quality assurance activities to ensure fidelity to the Kaleidoscope Play & Learn model as well as to ensure we are meeting the needs of our participants.


For more information or to find a playgroup near you contact Teresa Slater at Southern Oregon Early Learning Services Hub or find us on Facebook.

Kaleidoscope Information (pdf)


Five on 5

Skills related to social and emotional development are the skills that best prepare children for kindergarten and learning. Thank you to our many wonderful partners in Jackson and Josephine Counties who work with children and families every day to ensure they have the support they need to thrive.
-René Brandon, Director of Southern Oregon Early Learning Services

KOBI – Five on 5 Video


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Next Agency Advisory Council Meeting

April 12, 2019
AllCare Health
1701 NE 7th Street, Grants Pass

To attend meeting remotely:
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:

Or phone:
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(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location) and enter
meeting ID 968 941 6551 when prompted.

Next Governance Council Meeting:

May 21, 2019
2:00-4:00 pm
AllCare Health
1701 NE 7th Street 1701 , Medford


211info is a nonprofit that helps people navigate health and human services systems.
Here’s how it works: Anyone can dial 211 weekdays between  8am and 6 pm to reach a certified Community Information Specialist who will talk with them about what kinds of community resources they need. Maybe they are hungry, about to be evicted, worried about their toddler’s behavior, or in need of legal advice or employment resources—or perhaps the caller is a teacher or concerned neighbor who is seeking resource information for someone else.

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Oregon Department of Human Services

DHS Vision & Mission

  • Vision:Safety, health and independence for all Oregonians.
  • Mission: To help Oregonians in their own communities achieve wellbeing and independence through opportunities that protect, empower, respect choice and preserve dignity.

DHS Presentation

Southern Oregon Early Learning Services

SOELS does not provide direct services to children and families. Instead, we function as a  system-builder and bring together community leaders from early childhood education, health care, K-12 education, social services, private sector business, and parents to build strong partnerships to create effective and aligned programs that promote school readiness and family stability. SOELS invests early learning dollars into the region based upon these critical partner collaborations. In doing so, expertise and resources can be shared to strengthen regional services and supports,  avoid duplication, and provide a network of support so families with young children feel connected to the community they live in.

SOELS Community Resource Orientation Presentation

211info SO Family Article

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Behavioral Health Resources

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What is VROOM?
Vroom turns shared moments into brain building moments. Whether it’s mealtime, bath time, or anytime in between, there are always ways to nurture our children’s growing minds.

Jackson County

Community Works
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HelpLine is Jackson County’s only 24-hour crisis hotline, and is almost entirely staffed by trained volunteers.  Our trained volunteers and staff listen with empathy, help problem solve, and provide contact information for local area resources to people in crisis.  HelpLine answers nearly 9,000 calls annually, and vary from callers asking for a listening ear to desperate pleas for help. HelpLine workers have access to a language line that allows them to speak to callers of many languages other than English.

HelpLine 541-779-4357

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at
(541) 779-2393 x 212, or go to the volunteer page for more information.

Working together to end homelessness

Homeless Management Information System Providers

  • Ashland Community Resource Ctr. (ACRC)
  • Columbia Care
  • Community Works
  • Hearts with a Mission
  • Maslow
  • OnTrack Rogue Valley
  • Rogue Valley Council of Governments
  • Rogue Valley Veterans and Community Outreach (RVVCO)
  • Salvation Army
  • Veterans Administration

Josephine County

Grants Pass Treatment Center
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The mission of GPTC is to provide professional, personal, affordable and effective treatment to those suffering from opioid addiction in Southern Oregon and to proactively engage and educate the communities we serve about the disease.

GPTC Presentation

Options for Southern Oregon

Options for Southern Oregon serves people of all ages in our community who have mental health needs. Our holistic approach addresses housing, advocacy, community integration, crisis intervention, therapy, co-occurring issues, education, work, and economic well-being. We foster the development of mental and emotional health in children, adults, and families, and support our clients’ participation as respected members of the community.

Options Children Resource Team-Grants Pass

Siskiyou Community Health Center

As a community health center, Siskiyou provides personalized, patient-centered care to help manage your individual and family wellness needs through all stages of life. Our goal is to provide a medical home that focuses on high quality primary and preventive care for the whole family and to ensure that all Patients, including those who are medically underserved, have continuous access to high quality community-based health care services including a primary care home.

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