Interview with Ron Herndon

Ron Herndon is an outstanding advocate for Head Start. His advocacy has even been commemorated by having one of four NHSA Awards named after him! We were honored to have him as our keynote speaker at our Fall Conference. He is an engaging speaker with a deep understanding of how systemic racism has impacted education in the US.

We are grateful to have such a compelling advocate as a member!

Thank you to the Children’s Institute for recording this interview!

Combating the Opioid Epidemic Through Evidence Based Home Visiting

Home Visiting Policy Network

Dear Colleagues,

As we all know, MIECHV still must be reauthorized.  Our commitment to seeing that it happens has never wavered and has been strengthened through renewed resources and mechanisms to increase our educational work to stakeholders.  As well, we have all seen that the media is joining our push to get MIECHV reauthorization done.

One of the areas of dialogue that has opened up traction is the opioid epidemic.  Simply stated, lawmakers are being challenged to demonstrate their commitment to combat the national opioid addiction crisis.  The immediate renewal of MIECHV for 5 years would be a fruitful and effective starting point.

Accordingly, we have prepared a brief on the correlation of the MIECHV program and opioid addiction/substance abuse prevention.  The following is an excerpt of that brief:“The opioid crisis in our country is quickly spiraling out of control.  This is mainly due to a disconnection between the science of addiction and the treatment of addiction.  The medical field has identified addiction as a disease and developed drugs to aid in “kicking the habit” but treatment of the disease has not been effectively implemented as a health crisis. In many cases, proper attention has not been given to early detection and the behavioral implications of the addiction cycle.

For the most part, programs and efforts designed to reduce opioid addiction in the United States have largely focused on providing individuals with drug replacement therapy.  Simply swapping out an addicted individual’s drug of choice for an alternative, without the proper corresponding behavioral treatment, has not only proven ineffective in the preventing substance abuse, but has likely contributed to the opioid addiction epidemic.  While traditional approaches may have contributed to the current epidemic, MIECHV, through the implementation of its built-in benchmark and underlying constructs, has quietly and steadily been addressing the illicit drug and substance abuse crisis through maternal and infant health programming with demonstrated reductions in illicit drug use amongst families served.

In addition, reauthorizing the MIECHV program for 5 years with bolstered resources, could prove to be a serious step toward tackling the opioid epidemic.  This is attainable due to the outcome measurements that are embedded in the MIECHV design.  These are known as the benchmark area constructs (constructs) which are used to both guide home visiting models and to evaluate their effectiveness.  The constructs tie MIECHV to evidence based behavioral treatments for substance abuse.  This is done by including elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing (MI) in the constructs Read More…

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December 2017 Collab Corner

I hope that everyone enjoyed the holidays and is looking forward to the new year and all of the possibility it holds. There are some exciting things coming together for 2018 based on the work between the Oregon Early Learning Division and Oregon Head Start Association. Workgroups established over the summer have continued to meet and information generated from these groups is helping to inform practice and policy in the work that we are all doing. A newer workgroup that has been added this fall is one looking at Contracted slots in Oregon between Head Start programs and the Office of Child Care. If you are familiar with this topic or have questions around it; feel free to contact me or Kelli Walker ( about joining this group, or just drop me an email with your thoughts/questions.

I will be on leave frequently in the coming months and will have limited availability. Feel free to reach out to Michael Connor ( if you have questions relating to Oregon PreKindergarten and Dawn Barberis ( if you have questions on other topics, if she can’t help you- she is great at knowing who can.

Teacher of the Year Nominations are open!

The Oregon Department of Education, in partnership with the Oregon Lottery, is pleased to announce that the Oregon Teacher of the Year program is expanding to honor exemplary educators in every region of the state!

  • Nominations are open statewide through January 31, 2018.
  • Teachers will submit their applications by March 30, 2018.
  • Each of the 19 Oregon Education Service Districts will select a winner from their region.
  • 19 Regional Teachers of the Year will be honored across the state in May 2018!
  • One of the Regional Teachers of the Year will be named the 2019 Oregon Teacher of the Year in September 2018!

Regional Teachers of the Year will receive a cash prize of $500, be celebrated across the state, and be in the running for the honor of 2019 Oregon Teacher of the Year. The 2019 Oregon Teacher of the Year will receive a $5,000 cash prize (with a matching $5,000 going to their school!) and serve as a spokesperson and representative for all Oregon teachers.

Nominating a teacher is easy! Just go to and complete the four-step online form.

If you have any questions, please contact Oregon Teacher of the Year program coordinator Jenni Knaus at 503-947-5860.

I woke up this morning

Last night I was awakened by an alarm about an hour after going to bed. No, this was not an alarm clock. This was my carbon monoxide detector.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible odorless gas that is produced when things burn. I had a fire in my fireplace last night. I had slowly closed the flue as the fire went out and went to bed once I thought the fire had died (that’s an actual photo of the offending ash pile soon after the alarm went off). Without my carbon monoxide detector, I might not have woken up this morning.

I’m thankful that I knew that my fireplace was a source of CO and that I had checked the smoke alarms in my apartment and discovered that they only detected smoke, not CO and smoke. I had purchased and installed a CO alarm.

While I was awake last night waiting for my home to air out and be safe to occupy I did a little research. I discovered that rental properties in Oregon with CO sources have been required to have CO alarms since 2011. My unit did not have the legally required CO alarm installed by the owner. I now know about the law and that it’s my duty to inform the property manager that there was no CO detector in my apartment. It makes me wonder how many other units don’t have the required alarm.

I hope that my speaking up will help to save the lives of others. Be safe. Make sure you have a CO alarm if you have sources of carbon monoxide. Don’t trust that your landlord has installed them.

Stay safe and warm this winter.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Can Be Stopped

November 2017 HS Collab Corner

This past month I had the pleasure of accompanying Micker (Mike) Richardson, the Head Start Collaboration Director for Region 11 AIAN (American Indian and Alaska Native) programs, on a site visit to a couple of Oregon’s Tribal Head Start programs. At Ca-Uma-Wa Head Start we met with Margaret Gunshow, the program manager for Head Start, and the Education Director, Modesta Minthorn-Pinawollenmay. We learned about the strong investment and support from tribal leaders and community members to enhance the work done with children and families. Cradle BoardsOne example of this was some beautiful cradle-boards crafted by Cleo Agnes Dick, an elder with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation; specifically for the Head Start classrooms.

At the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, we met with Cheryl Tom, who oversees the Head Start program, and was quick to invite her content area managers so that they could share more with us about their work and the uniqueness of the supports they provide. We also learned about a generous gift of regalia from a member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs to assure that each child had an item to wear for a Pow-wow that was occurring later that week. The work of these programs is vital to children and families and the connection between the priorities of the tribes and the goals of Head Start for children and families was clear. It was a first step in continuing to build a meaningful relationship with these valuable providers in our state.


Sabrina became the parent she was longing to be

Sabrina ErslandSabrina Ersland was 24 years old and facing a prison sentence. Incarceration wasn’t new to her. She had grown up in a dysfunctional home and spent much of her childhood, adolescence and young adult life in and out of foster homes, group homes, juvenile detention, and jail. But this time was different. She was pregnant.

Incarceration had become a pattern in her life offering her predictability and a certain amount of stability. But with a child on the way, she was determined to make a change. She desperately wanted to provide for her daughter what she never had as a child. “I didn’t know how, but I was determined to give this child the life that I never got.”

By the time she was sentenced, she had already had her baby. She woke up in her cell at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility and thought about her five month old daughter determined to make a change. But she didn’t even know what responsible, positive parenting looked like. And she didn’t know what she could do from the confines of her cell.

She soon received information about Community Action’s Coffee Creek Early Head Start program. This early childhood education program is housed at the correctional facility and provides an opportunity for incarcerated moms to bond with their children, learn about parenting and child development, and helps them transition into the role of parenting upon their release. The children come twice a week to the early childhood classroom located at the correctional facility.

Sabrina got into the program when her daughter was 8 months old. The Community Action staff were able to help her understand what she was yearning to know – how to be a good parent. She soaked it all up and came away with a newfound set of parenting skills.

She learned about the educational importance of play and getting down on the floor to meet her daughter at her level. She learned about the importance of talking to her baby even before she was able to have a conversation. She learned about the different stages of child development and what to expect. Most importantly, she was given time to bond with her child so that the transition upon her release would be a smoother one.

As Sabrina approached her release date she was excited about reuniting with her daughter and had idyllic dreams about how those first few moments would go. Fortunately, the Community Action staff helped prepare her. The staff gently urged her to consider things from her daughter’s perspective. Sabrina wasn’t part of her daughter’s daily home life and routine. Her daughter only knew her in the classroom environment. They prepared Sabrina for possible scenarios including rejection.

When the day finally came and Sabrina arrived at home full of anticipation, her daughter looked at her, turned around, and ran away. At this moment, the rejection hit Sabrina hard. But then she realized that she was prepared to handle this. Because of the program, she had all the tools she needed. Remembering the importance of meeting her toddler at her level, she immediately sat down on the floor. She worked to normalize the situation by chatting with the other adults in the room. And most importantly, she waited for her daughter to come to her.

While sitting and waiting, gratitude swept over her. She thought about all the parents who don’t get the opportunity to learn what she learned, and she decided that she wanted to do something about it. She wanted to spend her life preventing other children from going through what she went through as a child. She committed herself to this cause and every education and career decision since then has been motivated by this goal.

Immediately after her release, she enrolled in PCC and earned an associate’s degree. She then earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Portland State University where she researched how to strengthen Head Start programs. She focused her research on Albina Head Start where both of her children were attending. She recently earned her master’s degree from PSU where her research focused on the lack of parenting support for incarcerated fathers.

She is also now a proud member of the staff of Albina Head Start. It wasn’t easy entering the field of early childhood education with a criminal history. But she went through an intensive screening process to get cleared and is happy to be working for the program that changed the trajectory of her own life.

She reflects on all she has done and says, “It is hard work, but you are changing outcomes of children’s lives. If I can help at least one family not go through what I went through as a child – that’s huge for me.”

Community Action staff Carmen Slothower and Melissa McDonald ensure that the classroom at the correctional facility provides an enriching and educational environment for the moms and their children.

Source: Community Action : How to Help : Your Money at Work : Success Stories