Oregon Consensus provided technical assistance to the Early Learning Division (ELD) to support the Division’s efforts to prepare applicants seeking approval to serve as Early Learning Hubs. The Early Learning Hubs are a new approach to community-based leadership that brings together schools, education providers, health care, social services and the private sector to build on current approaches to early childhood education. The hubs link families to services that improve educational outcomes, particularly for at-risk children. The ELD, with assistance from Oregon Consensus, provided collaboration-based strategic planning and facilitation services to help improve applicants’ readiness for approval. (To ensure the neutrality of the application review process, ELD staff did not participate in the technical assistance meetings with potential applicants.)
Eleven communities requested technical assistance from Oregon Consensus during the project. They included:
“Four Rivers”- Sherman, Hood River, Wasco Gilliam, Wheeler
Eastern Oregon – Malheur, Baker, Wallowa
A team of Oregon Consensus facilitators and specialists, with a diverse range of expertise, provided the technical assistance. Oregon Consensus conducted a needs assessments using individual and group interviews; consulted on the design of stakeholder meetings; and facilitated team-building sessions and meetings focused on decision making, development of operating agreements, budgets and memoranda of understanding.
The project included ELD-sponsored webinars on topics related to educational readiness. The combination of webinars and technical assistance provided consistent information across regions, while also allowing for customized assistance that addressed the needs of each prospective applicant’s region.
Feedback from community participants indicated that the services were valued by community partners. Participants shared the following comments:
“The process brought counties together, ensured all had a voice, helped identify issues/barriers and talk about them, identify commonalities, strengths and identify preferred alignments.”
“The process cut through the politics and kept people informed.”
“This was a very difficult process and the facilitation was helpful in so many ways. I cannot imagine how challenging this process was and yet impartiality and professionalism continued to be maintained.”