Who are We?
Southern Oregon Early Learning Services (SOELS) is the Early Learning Hub serving Jackson and Josephine Counties. A Hub is an organized group of people working toward shared goals. Like all the 16 Hubs in Oregon, SOELS is designed to make resources for children, prenatally through six years and their families, more available, more accessible, and more effective.
Oregon Early Learning Division has established three shared goals for each early learning hub in the state:
- Families are healthy, stable, and attached;
- Children are supported to enter school ready to succeed; and
- The early childhood system is aligned, coordinated, and family-centered
Although the goals are the same for each hub, the strategies and innovations vary by region, based upon the strengths and challenges of each region, as well as the partners who are engaged and active in this systems-level work.
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 to their families experiencing challenging conditions with finances, housing, addiction, mental health, and similar important issues.
What is 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.
What do 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.