*Umatilla, Morrow and Union counties have been left out of the official start to a statewide overhaul of early childhood programs, but local leaders say that won’t stop them from collaborating.
The three counties banded together to form the Blue Mountain Early Learning Hub, one of many regional “hubs” the governor directed counties to create as a central authority for government-funded programs serving children from womb to kindergarten.
A proposal to the state listed the InterMountain Education Service District and Umatilla Morrow Head Start as “co-leads” of the hub. But their application was recently rejected, denying them $280,000 in state funding and the chance to be part of the first wave of officially recognized hubs.
“That was a real shocker to us, because we (the ESD and Head Start) had probably the longest history of working together,” said InterMountain ESD director Mark Mulvihill.
He said the problem seemed to be the way the grant was written, not the actual ideas in the grant proposal, and the state provided a lot of helpful feedback for the second wave of applications coming in March. So the entities involved in the Blue Mountain Early Learning Hub are pressing ahead without state funding. Their governing board’s first official meeting is January 22.