The UP NOW Plan
The universal preschool program
Universal preschool means free, full-year, play-based, high-quality preschool for every 3- and 4-year-old in Multnomah County. Parents, educators, and culturally-specific organizations will help create a program for kids of all abilities and backgrounds. By publicly funding existing providers as well as supporting the build-up of new capacity, we can finally offer preschool to every kid.
Families will be able to choose the setting where they know their kids will thrive. MULTCOINIT-08 lets parents choose from family-based, center-based, community centers, or local school options. The universal preschool program will roll out community by community, prioritizing those who need it the most. By the 2027-2028 school year, all 3- and 4- year olds in the county will be covered.
MULTCOINIT-08 will improve on Oregon's small, existing, publicly funded Preschool Promise program model by making it:
Free to all 3- and 4-year-olds
Provide living wages to all staff and participating providers
Offer multigenerational classroom options like those developed locally by the Latino Network
The universal preschool workforce
Child care workers are a historically undervalued, essential workforce that deserves full recognition and support. COVID-19 has demonstrated beyond any doubt what’s been true all along. Existing providers can participate in MULTCOINIT-08’s program, and new options can develop as stable funding becomes available.
Under MULTCOINIT-08, preschool teachers and child care workers will get:
A minimum wage of $18/hour
A wage scale comparable to K-12 teachers’
Access to union representation
Free, high-quality professional development
How much will universal preschool cost?
Kids do better throughout their education when they start with high-quality preschool. They graduate from high school at a higher rate and earn more money as adults. Once established, universal preschool more than pays for itself - every dollar invested brings a downstream return of $9.45 to the community!
We expect 80 percent participation of Multnomah County’s 20,000 3- and 4-year-olds who are not already enrolled in publicly funded programs. That means a total cost of $260 million per year. This includes building a reserve fund for financial stability and planning.
This money would go to existing child care providers, not to create a county-owned preschool system. The county already manages larger programs — such as the law enforcement and incarceration budget of $303.3 million.
How will we pay for universal preschool?
MULTCOINIT-08 funds universal preschool with a progressive, marginal tax on the top 5 percent of income earners in the county. The other 95 percent of people won’t pay a dime.
This tax will be 3.9 percent of taxable income, after deductions, on the amount of income over and above $165,000 for individuals, or above $190,000 for couples.
For example, a typical individual with an income of $250,000 would pay $1,850. Compared to their total income, that's a tax rate of less than 1 percent. Oregon Legislative Revenue Office analysis indicates this tax would have raised $260 million in 2017, the last year for which they have complete data.
Universal preschool works
Universal preschool programs already exist in New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston, Chicago, and elsewhere.
With your support, Multnomah County can be the next place to enact universal preschool. We can give all 3- and 4-year-olds in the county the high-quality preschool experience they deserve.
Universal preschool works for children, for families, for teachers and child care workers and providers, and for our community as a whole!
“As educators, we understand and can see the difference a quality preschool can make for a student's education. It's only right that every child has access to the same educational opportunities and advantages."
– Portland Association of Teachers