Oregon Department of Learning & Care Marks One Year Anniversary

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The Oregon Department of Early Learning and Care recently celebrated a successful first year as one of Oregon’s newest state agencies.

“This anniversary represents the first of many milestones,” said Director Alyssa Chatterjee. “I’m overjoyed to see how far [the agency]has come. It is an honor to support young children and families across the state.”

Standing up this new agency devoted to children in their earliest years kicked off last July when staff announced they had successfully surpassed all three transition goals. Over the course of the year, staff administered programs that successfully delivered assistance to tens of thousands of Oregonians across the state. Programs include: Baby Promise, Early Childhood Equity Fund, Employment Related Day Care, Healthy Families Oregon, Oregon Prenatal to Kindergarten, Preschool Promise and Relief Nurseries. Together, these programs are helping to unify and strengthen early learning across Oregon.

In June, the agency released two guiding documents: its 2024 strategic plan titled “Growing Oregon Together,” and its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion action plan which will help guide the work in the years ahead. Staff have also taken steps to increase transparency including the launch of three new data dashboards to help measure progress.

Young child smiles while holding up hands over toys. Educator smiles in the background.

Staff set up strong foundations and structure for the agency by creating policies, information technology infrastructure and agency-wide budget processes. This work leverages limited financial resources to their greatest effect. The agency also updated its organizational structure with a “dual deputy” model to help teams operate more efficiently. In turn, this will help the agency better serve Oregonians.

Oregon’s children deserve to have safe and healthy environments to play, explore, and learn. To that end, the Child Care Licensing Division and its partners revised and implemented new rules, ran over 21,000 background checks, conducted investigations and supported providers. This work took place out of field offices across the state in Redmond, La Grande, Medford, Eugene, Salem, Tualatin and Portland.

Child holds up pencil and smiles in a classroom setting.

Over the course of the year, staff worked hard to be intentional about internal and external engagement. Leadership recently announced a contract with Workplace Change to help build a supportive culture and to foster an inclusive work environment.

The new Tribal Affairs Office and Social Equity Office have expanded and are now fully staffed. Agency staff will continue to build strong government-to-government relationships with Tribes, as well as deepen partnerships with advocates, unions, legislators, culturally specific nonprofits, providers, families and other community groups.

At the legislative level, staff testified, attended committee hearings and worked with the legislature to pass the agency’s first budget. Bills advanced and new policies are being implemented to increase options and provide supports to Oregonians in need. This work is just a sample of what the Department of Early Learning and Care accomplished over the last year.

“As we reflect on all we have collectively achieved this past year, we are more committed than ever and are deeply grateful for the collaboration, support, and partnership we’ve received,” said Director Chatterjee. “We have a great deal more work to do, and in the years ahead we will continue to evolve our strategies and solutions to meet the needs of the communities DELC serves.”

The agency marked the occasion with a downloadable “DELC Turns 1!” coloring page.

About Author

Kate Gonsalves is the Director of Communications for Oregon Department of Early Learning and Care.

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