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Starting Out Equal? The Impacts of Child Care Access on Kindergarten Readiness in Oregon Public Deposited

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  • Children enter kindergarten on unequal footing. Early childhood experiences shape initial disparities and predict academic achievement and life trajectories. One influence, child care, is not available to all children in Oregon as most counties qualify as child care deserts. This paper analyzes if child care access has an effect on kindergarten readiness scores. Underlying this research question is the Education Production Function (EPF) theory. Using school district level data on child care capacity and average kindergarten readiness scores, OLS regression is used to determine if the variables are correlated. The regression analysis reveals that child care capacity is positively correlated with kindergarten readiness scores, particularly upper letter recognition scores. As an example of a policy that increases child care access, this paper also examines the universal preschool initiative that passed in Multnomah County, Oregon in November 2020. Using Multiple Streams Framework, an explorative study of this initiative gives insight into the process of creating the policy, campaigning for the policy, merging of two campaigns, and passing of the final policy. Themes include having a clear message or vision, the important role of community coalition members in creating policy, building a large tent to include multiple avenues of engagement and stakeholders from various fields, utilizing skilled facilitators, adapting and taking advantage of changing circumstances, and researching previous successful policy to emulate.
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