Northern Willamette Valley

Improving Kids’ School Readiness

Santiam Canyon Early Childhood Center / Mill City

“The impact it’s going to have on the kids is going to be significant. It’s been very humbling to see the support for this project.”

Todd Miller
Superintendent, Santiam Canyon School District

When Kari Seidel moved her family from eastern Oregon to the Mill City area, she was concerned that her son Easton wouldn’t have the chance to attend preschool like his older sisters had. Kari found preschools to be too far away and expensive, so she kept Easton at home.

But now that Easton attends Santiam Canyon Early Childhood Center, the new no–cost preschool run by the local school district and Strengthening Rural Families, the best part of Kari’s day is asking Easton how his day went at school: “His answer continues to be ‘Awesome!’”

“Easton has shown incredible growth this year with his social skills,” Kari says. She’s noticed gains in his independence as well as his ability to work with others and deal with frustrations. “We feel much more confident sending him to kindergarten next year.”

“A lot of our kids entering kindergarten don’t have the prerequisite skills—academic, social, emotional and behavioral,” says Todd Miller, Santiam Canyon School District superintendent.

“That’s where funding from OCF and others has been crucial. It allowed us to purchase the facility and do renovations,” he adds. “An OCF advised fund is providing ongoing support to pay for staffing. There is minimal expense to the school district to run this program, and we see the value as huge.”

From the 2019 Annual Report »