Oregon Department of Early Learning and Care (DELC)

Infrastructure to Support Early Childhood Systems

  • Administrative + Governance Models


In 2021, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 3073, which createdCreation model: A few states have looked to create new entities responsible for managing all early learning and early childhood programs across the state. These offices become executive branch entities or new departments, and they typically hold most of the early childhood programs and responsibilities the Department of Early Learning and Care (DELC). DELC was established on July 1, 2023. This agency combined the state’s early education programs under one roof by moving the Employment Related Day Care program (ERDC), which was housed in the Oregon Department of Human Services (OHDS), to DELC. According to the DELC, this change will allow more efficient child care searching for families, will offer more training sessions for license-exempt providers, and will expand the types of providers and programs under the agency while prioritizing mixed-delivery of early care and education.

The creation of a new department will not automatically create better outcomes for children, but it can help provide the structure and coordination needed to improve early education quality and accessibility across a state or city (Kagan & Gomez, 2015).

Department of Early Learning and Care – Oregon Early Learning Division 
HB3073 2021 Regular Session – Oregon Legislative Information System 
Oregon Early Learning Division Infographic (2022)
Kagan, L. and Gomez, R. (Eds.). (2015) Early Childhood Governance: Choices and Consequences. Teachers College Press.

Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:

Strong infrastructure and systems – including governance structures and data systems – are key aspects of high-quality early education and care. And research suggests there is a need for more accessible, affordable, and high-quality early education within a mixed-delivery system; strengthening infrastructure and systems is one important way states and cities can take action to address these needs and accomplish these goals.

Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) that connect to the need for more robust infrastructure and systems, including data systems:

  • Families rely on a range of formal (e.g., Head Start, center-based care, public pre-K) and more informal (e.g., home-based, relative care) early education settings; when choosing a setting for their child, families balance many logistical constraints and personal preferences.
  • But for many families – and especially low- and middle-income families – early education choices remain tightly constrained due to issues of affordability and supply.
  • No one early education setting type is inherently of higher quality than another; children develop and learn well in every setting type, and in the study, all setting types showed room to grow in quality.
  • We have learned a great deal from this groundbreaking, large-scale study. Nevertheless, there is still much to learn about what children, families, and educators need, and about what “works” – for whom and under what circumstances – across all the diverse settings where young children learn and grow.
Learn More about ELS@H Findings

Lean more about Oregon

Context matters. Visit the Oregon profile page to learn more about its demographics, political landscape, early education programs, early education workforce, and funding sources and streams.

Visit the Oregon Profile Here
  • The state population is 4,240,147
  • The percentage of children under 6 with all available parents in the workforce is 65%
  • The rural percentage is 19.5%