December 15, 2016 
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Every child in Multnomah County is prepared to
succeed in school and life, regardless of race, ethnicity or class.

From Isolation to Connection
The power of home visiting

When Ngo came to Portland, she felt overwhelmed and alone. Then, her son was born. The country was new. Being a mom was new. She was starting from scratch. Myle Cao from IRCO was the missing link to her new “family.” 

Ngo was worried about her son, Khoi. He was born shortly after Ngo immigrated to Portland from Vietnam to be with her husband. Now, Khoi was turning three. And she could tell something just wasn’t right.  
“He was very shy,” said Ngo. “He didn’t interact much with other kids because we didn’t know anyone. I was so worried he wasn’t getting what he needed to be ready for school. But I didn’t know how to get help.”
That’s when Ngo learned about Multnomah County’s SUN Parent-Child Development Services (PCDS) program at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO). PCDS connected her with Myle Cao a trained, bilingual and bicultural parent educator. Myle knew right away what to do because she had worked with moms like Ngo before. She invited Ngo to bring Khoi and his little brother to playgroups twice a week. Ngo came diligently. 
Through the playgroups designed specifically for Asian and Pacific Islander families, Khoi and his little brother had a chance to interact with other young children. They sang songs, played games, read books, learned English, and did crafts and activities to build social and academic skills. At each gathering, Ngo built friendships with other parents who share her cultural background. Myle, the parent educator, acted as part preschool teacher for the kids, part guide and mentor to the adults.
Myle also visited with Ngo and her sons in their home every month, providing personalized coaching and advice. She talked with Ngo about the developmental stages her sons were going through, helped her with specific parenting challenges, and even showed her some of the basics of life in Portland.
With Myle’s targeted support, Ngo began to feel excited and capable as a parent and member of her community. More importantly, she felt like she had finally found a “family”—other parents she could call and ask for advice about parenting or anything else that she needed. 
It took a little while for Khoi to break out of his shell, but after a few months he was actively participating at circle time, singing along with Myle and the other children, and raising his hand wildly when he knew the answer. Today, Khoi is in preschool. His teachers say he is on track and doing well. His brother, Huan, will start preschool next fall.
Ngo couldn’t be more relieved. “I’m always encouraging other parents to join the group because I see how my kids have been so successful,” she said. 
When combined with at least one year of preschool, home visiting is one of the best ways to help children overcome early disadvantages resulting from poverty and other systemic barriers.
In 2015-2016, PCDS parent educators like Myle coached 554 families—but the need is even greater. Many of ELM’s home visiting partners currently have waiting lists.
ELM invests in PCDS because home visiting is an integral part of the early learning services in Multnomah County—and we want to make sure it isn’t just an isolated intervention. That’s why we’re also connecting more PCDS families to high quality preschool programs, ensuring children are registered for kindergarten on time, and fostering a smooth transition to kindergarten through trained family engagement specialists (P-3 coordinators) at key elementary school campuses.
By improving connections to schools and community, ELM makes sure families like Ngo’s are better supported through the tough times, so their children can do the important job of learning and growing.
For more information about PCDS, please get in touch with Sanjeev Balajee at

By the Numbers
Community Education Workers

Community Education Workers made 929 visits to families last year—a 390% increase from the previous year. That’s 929 times that families in North Portland and East County knew someone was really there for them. Research shows that home visits prevent harmful experiences that negatively impact children’s brains during early childhood. The CEW peer-to-peer model is particularly effective at improving family stability because it keeps strong cultural connections and strategies at the center.  

 New Positions in Early Learning

Check out these great opportunities and, please, spread the word!

•  Children’s Institute is hiring an
Early Works Site Liaison

•  Latino Network is hiring an Early Childhood
Program Manager.

•  Mt. Hood Community College is hiring a
PCDS parent educator.

•  Volunteers of America is hiring a
Program Coordinator at its East Family Relief Nursery.

In Case You Missed It...

New research, articles worth reading, and information on early learning work happening in Multnomah County and beyond.

A campaign is using parks to bridge the a 30-million “word gap” between low- and upper-income children.
A new paper argues that preschool is a better investment than the stock market.
•  Recent research says that bilingual education “shapes the brain for a lifetime.”
The Oregonian reported that nearly 2,000 preschoolers being served in public preschools run by school districts are homeless.

Mark Your Calendar!
Join us at these upcoming events

December 15: P-3 Systems Work Group
December 16: Parent Accountability Council Meeting
January 17: Early Learning Community Meeting
January 23: ELM Sector Council Meeting

P-3 Systems Work Group Meeting
Thursday, December 15, 1:00-3:00 pm
David Douglas School District Board Room, 1500 SE 130th Ave.
The P-3 Systems Work Group supports the P-3 (Prenatal–3rd grade) Schools work, and includes SUN lead agencies, school districts, early learning providers, DHS and other organizations. Meetings are open to the public.
Parent Accountability Council Meeting
Friday, December 16, 10am–noon
The Parent Accountability Council (PAC) ensures that ELM's work is guided by family voice. Meetings are open to the public. If you would like to attend, please contact Sanj Balajee at The next meeting will be held on December 16.
Early Learning Community Meeting
Tuesday, January 17, 10:30 am–12:30 pm
St.Philip Neri Church/Carvlin Hall, 2408 SE 16th Ave.
The Early Learning Community is a broad group of community members and organization leaders who are invested in early learning. This group is open to all members of the public and meets once per quarter to provide insight on various strategies to improve early learning services across the county.
ELM Sector Council Meeting
Monday, January 23, 9–10:30 am
Multnomah Building, 501 SE Hawthorne, Rm 126
The Sector Council is charged with developing a strategic agenda that is shared across sectors and guided by family voice. The Sector Council is comprised of leaders from five sectors— business, health, early childhood, K-12, and social services. Please contact Helen Shum at if you are interested in attending this meeting.
Early Learning Multnomah (ELM) is the only county-wide effort improving services so that all 34,000 low-income children six and under—particularly children of color—get the best start possible. ELM is co-led by United Way of the Columbia-Willamette and Multnomah County.
Copyright © 2016 Early Learning Multnomah, All rights reserved.

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