Early Childhood

Early childhood education and school readiness

Neighborhood House early childhood programs prepare eligible students from disadvantaged families for 21st-century challenges. Early involvement leads to improved social skills, higher IQ scores, better grades and enhanced attention spans, which increases your child’s chances of success as they progress through school. We focus on promoting school readiness and assisting families to engage early on in their child’s education, supporting healthy development and early learning for over 1,600 Portland-area children ages 0-5.

Head Start and Early Head Start programs:

Early Head Start Home-Based Program: Home-based assistance for children ages 0-3 that includes weekly 90-minute parent/child educational home visits and twice-monthly play groups.

Early Head Start Native American Childcare Program: Culturally responsive education for Native American children ages 0-3, located in North Portland and serving families in Multnomah County.

Head Start: For children ages 3 through kindergarten, these half-day classes (either morning or afternoon) provide comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families.

Preschool Promise: For children ages 4 through kindergarten in working or student families in West Multnomah County.

Why is early learning so important?

Decades of research show that the first five years of a child’s life are crucial for building the brain that shapes that child’s future. High-quality early learning experiences are predictors of health, happiness, growth, development, and school achievement.

In addition, children who experience a quality early learning environment (at home and at childcare or preschool) are more likely to show up in kindergarten ready to learn because they are better able to focus in the classroom, transition from one activity to the next, and recognize letters and numbers.

Early learning experiences make children more likely to successfully meet third-grade proficiency benchmarks, an important indicator of high school graduation.

Parenting Program

You are your child’s first and most important teacher! Neighborhood House’s Parenting Program helps parents enhance their parenting skills, so they are better able to support their children’s healthy development and education. It provides culturally and developmentally appropriate services for families with children ages 0-6. The program fosters an inclusive environment, valuing the diverse backgrounds of the families it serves and respecting cultural differences.

Parenting Program services include:

  • Developmentally appropriate parent-child interactive play groups, including indoor park, art studios, and mindful yoga.
  • Parenting support groups, including a father’s group.
  • Workshops on nutrition, child development, and early brain development.
  • Home visits.
  • Support and referrals for health and developmental screenings for all children.
  • Parent resource lending library.
  • Toy and book lending library for children.
  • Support and advocacy for families of children entering kindergarten.
  • Linkages to community services and opportunities.
  • Family literacy program, including ESL classes.
  • School transition services.
  • Trainings for schools and community service providers on cultural sensitivity and early childhood



Mohamud, a father of three from Somalia, has participated in the Parenting Program for the past year. Since joining the program, he has attended several workshops on school readiness, taken ESL courses at the library, and gone on many field trips, including to OMSI, the Oregon Zoo, and the Children’s Museum. He has so enjoyed the experience that he organized a walking group for fathers, giving other dads the opportunity to socialize with each other, exercise, and engage in their children’s learning. Mohamud loves spending time at the library with his children, encouraging them to read. He also participates in other Neighborhood House programs and community events.

Child Care Improvement Project

Our Child Care Improvement Project (CCIP) is Neighborhood House’s way of “paying it forward” to the next generation of family child care providers in the Portland area, offering training and resources that both improve the quality of child care and increase their chances of long-term financial success. Working families in the region benefit from the increased availability of affordable, high-quality child care in their neighborhoods, and children benefit by being in the loving care of dedicated, trained professionals who enrich their lives in a safe, healthy, and educational child care environment.

Meet one of our providers below.





When Ellen* enrolled as a childcare provider in our network 2½ years ago, she had just 2-3 children in her care. Ellen received professional development through CCIP, as well as school readiness training from the Clarendon Early Learning Center. Through home visits, her CCIP coordinator encouraged her to grow her business, and Ellen was eager to do so. With support, she flourished and rapidly worked towards her goal of expanding her business and becoming licensed by the state. In addition, Ellen took classes to learn how to serve children with behavioral issues and special needs. She hired an additional employee and began offering before- and after-school care. Her program serves bilingual children and focuses on outdoor learning, community walks, science, and gardening. Ellen regularly attends the local art studio and visits the library for story time to provide the children with enriched activities. As an advocate and mentor for other providers in her group, Ellen encourages her fellow child care providers to pursue licensure and improve their business, just like she did.

*name changed at client’s request

Child Care Improvement Project services include:

  • Monthly training in quality early learning and business practices.
  • Regular home visits.
  • Quality assessments using the national recognized Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale.
  • Child care environment improvement grants for providers to further professional development or purchase child care-related materials.
  • Professional development resources for providers.
  • Family engagement activities that work to build a supportive relationship between providers and families.
  • English as a Second Language classes for child care providers.
  • Accessible business and technical assistance and mentorship to improve the financial viability of child care businesses for underrepresented communities.