Quick Action Saves School Access

Medically fragile school-age children will be able to continue in Portland Public Schools this fall because of legislation passed in the Oregon legislature as a result of advocacy by CFM's state affairs team.

The issue cropped up relatively late in the 2013 session, but CFM's Jessica Adamson, Ellen Miller and Tess Milio jumped into action, worked with legislative champion Rep. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, and got an amendment added to House Bill 2747, which is now on its way to the governor's desk.

It all started in May when Portland Public Schools declared it wasn't legally obligated to educate 26 children housed in the Providence Child Center because their parents lived outside the district's boundary.

The amendment in HB 2747 ensures the children can attend school in Portland for the next school year while lawmakers and others ponder a longer term solution that takes into account financial responsibility for the children's education for consideration in the 2014 session.

"There may be a credible discussion to have about who is responsible," Gelser said to the Oregonian about the passage of the bill, "but that should be invisible to the kids and their families."

Parents of children at the Providence Child Center expressed relief about final approval of the bill. They said their children have difficulty adjusting to change. PPS officials also voiced support for the plan that provides continuity of education for the children.

The Providence Child Center, which has operated for 60 years and is located in NE Portland within the PPS boundary, is the only facility of its kind in the Pacific Northwest that provides full-time residential care for medically fragile children.

"I'm proud of our team for taking on a tough issue late in the session and finding a workable solution that benefits children and their parents," says CFM Partner Dan Jarman. "This is the kind of advocacy work that makes all the hard work worth it."