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ORAEYC has a rich history of decade's long activism by a diverse collection of early childhood educators working to advance the field of early childhood education.  We are proud of the work of our predecessors, laying the foundation for continued investment in our youngest learners and those who care for them. 

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Founded in 1940’s 

Established in the 1940’s as the Portland Association for Nursery Education (PANE). Under the guidance of 1947 President Elizabeth H. Wright, PANE attracted teachers, childcare workers, pediatric nurses, and others interested in the development of young children. The membership fee was a mere $2 per year. In 1958, the Oregon groups unified as Oregon Association for Nursery Education (OANE), affiliating with the National ANE as well. With a larger membership base, OANE became more active. It voiced its opinions and concerns in legislature, meeting with the Governor’s Committee and lobbying for more preschool regulation. The biannual conferences still held today began in those early years and attracted as many as 120 people at a time.

A New Name

In 1966, after a nationwide reorganization process, OANE became the Oregon Association for the Education of Young Children. It received its Articles of Incorporation in 1970 and nonprofit status in 1971. With 255 members, more than double the number of ten years before, the association focused on professionalism and visibility. Taking a stronger stand in public policy, OAEYC successfully lobbied for an early childhood education endorsement on elementary education certificates.  

Activism of the 1990’s

OAEYC reached both internally and externally in the 1990’s. A new Diversity/Equity Committee supported a movement towards anti-bias practices. Diversity Leadership Institutes were held to train members, increasing their awareness of culturally sensitive issues. OAEYC joined the Worthy Wage Coalition in 1993, working to require fair compensation for child care workers. This drive for higher wages was coupled with efforts to increase credibility and visibility, and OAEYC took a bigger interest in advocacy. With strong support from groups such as OAEYC, in 1987 the Oregon legislature passed two packages affecting early education: a statewide career development system to address wages and training for early education teachers, and the “Oregon Educational Act for the 21st Century.” In 1997 a twelve-bill legislative package calling for higher standards in all aspects of childcare was passed.

Today’s Services

Today, ORAEYC has over 800 members, 8 local chapters, and a budget over $200,000.
ORAEYC staff and volunteers continue to advocate for the early childhood education
and care workforce. We offer member updates in print or electronic form. We present
conferences, cohort trainings and small teaching sessions throughout Oregon.
ORAEYC sponsors the annual “Week of the Young Child” each spring. ORAEYC
remains committed to supporting those who work for the education and needs of
children from birth through age eight.

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