Center on Early Learning & Youth Development
Center on Early Learning and Youth Development (CELYD) works to improve the quality of care and education available to all children and their families in order to promote optimal development and full inclusion in their family, community and society through:
- Research, development and demonstration of effective practices and innovative models of care and education.
- Professional development, technical assistance and dissemination of effective practices and innovative models of service to practitioners in the fields of Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education.
- Systems change and policy development in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education that creates access to quality service and promotes positive outcomes for young children and families at the local, state and national level.
CELYD's Statement of SolidarityWe at the Center on Early Learning and Youth Development (CELYD) at The Research Institute at Western Oregon University mourn over the recent horrific murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless other Black Americans. These violent acts were built upon hundreds of years of racism and are the culmination of insidious systemic racism in our society. Our Black communities continue to be victims of violence and inequality. We raise our voice alongside those calling to dismantle structural racism and white supremacy.
OPK Extended Duration Playbook is meant to help future grantees implement effective practices for children, their families, and the teaching teams in extended duration classrooms. The Playbook will provide recommendations for effective practices and resources to support grantees. In addition to the lessons learned from the Extended Duration pilot, the OPK Playbook also includes the recommendations from the Early Education Essentials report.
One of the most important decisions your family will ever make is choosing child care. The Finding Quality Child Care: A Guide for Oregon's Families provides information, resources, and guidance to help you to make the best decision when choosing a child care program that meets the needs of your family.
Central Coordination of Child Care Resource and Referral provides leadership and technical assistance for 13 CCR&R programs serving all counties in Oregon. Our mission includes supporting families and early childhood child care and education providers in meaningful and responsive ways.
Oregon's Spark is a program that raises the quality and consistency of child care and early learning programs across the state. The Quality Rating System recognizes, rewards and builds on what early learning and development programs are already doing well. It helps ensure children in Spark programs are ready for kindergarten by connecting programs and providers with free tools, financial incentives and professional advice that they can put into practice with confidence.
Project Support Specialist
Ikaika Alapa'i works at the Center on Early Learning and Youth Development as a Project Support Specialist. Ikaika earned his Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Policy at Portland State University and Bachelor's of Arts in Spanish at Eastern Oregon University. Ikaika provides administrative support to various projects in the Center on Early Learning and Youth Development.
Early Learning Project Specialist
Hannah Anonson is the Early Learning Project Specialist at TRI since March 2015. She earned her degree at Western Oregon University in Geography and Communications. Hannah's primary expertise in Oregon's Quality Rating and Improvement System, Central Coordination of Child Care Resource and Referral and NaccrrAware.
Spark Anchor Assessor
Cori works for the Center on Early Learning and Youth Development as a Spark ERS Assessor. She brings a varied and diverse repertoire of experience as an educator, technical assistance specialist, social scientist, and advocate for children and families. In addition to conducting assessments, Cori provides technical assistance, training, and support to partners across the state. She believes that to do our best work, we must work creatively and collaboratively in an environment where diversity of background and experience are valued. Cori is dedicated to the notion that every child has the right to a high quality education and that every family deserves equitable access to the supports they need to be successful.
Ami Chappell Russell
Spark Anchor Assessor
Ami is a Spark ERS Assessor at the Center on Early Learning and Youth Development. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Eastern Oregon University and has extensive continuing education in instructional design and child development. Ami is an Oregon Registry Master Trainer and enjoys developing and delivering training sessions around Oregon. With a professional background including training and development management, family child care program administration, and child care resource and referral, Ami has a unique understanding of early learning in Oregon and brings that expertise to her support of early childhood professionals.
Early Learning Project Specialist
Lindsey Cochran received her Master of Public Health degree from Oregon Health and Science University with an emphasis in program evaluation and Community Based Participatory Research, and holds a B.S. in Child and Family Studies from Portland State University. She is currently an Early Learning Project Specialist at TRI’s Center for Early Learning and Youth Development. Prior to her work at TRI, Lindsey worked as an early childhood researcher and evaluator for Portland State University’s School of Social Work. She has several years of experience conducting community needs assessments and evaluating programs within K-12 settings. Her work on these projects includes developing surveys, recruitment, conducting focus groups, facilitating in-depth interviews, and performing both qualitative and quantitative analysis for reporting.
Lead Data Specialist
Andrea Fewx is the Lead Data Specialist at TRI. She earned her B.A.degree in Sociology from Ottawa University. Ms.Fewx's primary expertise is in data analysis, and database design and development. She has worked in the field for 20 years.
Ms.Fewx started at TRI in 1999 as a data specialist. Since then, she has worked on technology project leadership, collection of data, organization of data, analysis of data, design and development of databases using MS Access and MS SQL, and the management of a data processing group.
Database Specialist / Information Systems Analyst
Cheri Freedman has worked for the Center on Early Learning since 2014 in different roles and is currently a Database Specialist and Information Systems Analyst. She earned her Bachelors of Business Administration in Operations Management at The University of Houston in Texas and completed her Masters of Science in Management and Information Systems from Western Oregon University. Her primary expertise is in Data Analysis, Systems Development, and Project Management. She has over 20 years of experience providing support to different industries including telecommunications, universities, community healthcare, and the federal government.
Early Childhood Project Specialist
Debbie has worked at The Research Institute since 1996. She came to TRI after graduating from WOU with a B.S. in business and working for 6 years in the staffing industry. She was originally hired as the office manager, but since 2003 has been in the Center on Early Learning and Youth Development as a project specialist. She enjoys the challenges that come with making impactful systems changes. Helping to develop the processes, routines, procedures and forms that enable this important to be completed efficiently and effectively is her specialty.
Robyn Lopez Melton
Center on Early Learning and Youth Development Coordinator/Spark and CCR&R Co-Director
Robyn Lopez Melton is the Coordinator of the Center on Early Learning and Youth Development at The Research Institute at Western Oregon University where she Co-Directs Spark, Oregon’s Quality Rating and Improvement System and the state coordination of Oregon’s Child Care Resource and Referral system. Robyn currently serves Chair of the NAEYC Affiliate Advisory Council and Past-President of OregonAEYC.She has worked in early learning for over 15 years. Her areas of expertise include working with monolingual Spanish speaking families, young children with multiple risk factors, parent education and Quality Rating and Improvement Systems. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from OSU Cascades campus with two BA degrees, Liberal Studies and International Studies and received her MSEd from WOU in 2018. In 2015, she was recognized by ExchangePress as an Exceptional Emerging Leader in Early Childhood Education. Robyn is also the mother of 2 and a licensed Zumba instructor.
Evaluation and Data Specialist
Dr. Beryl Neequaye is an Evaluation and Data Specialist with the Center on Evaluation, Technology & Research (CETR) at TRI. Beryl earned her Master’s in Public Administration and Ph.D. in Educational Research and Evaluation with an emphasis on mixed methods and methodology from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Beryl’s expertise is in program evaluation, mixed methods research, and understanding African immigrant populations in the U.S.A.
During Beryl’s graduate studies, she took on both administrative and academic positions at Ohio University. She was assigned various positions in managing grant funded research with the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. Beryl also worked as a program evaluation/research assistant with the Community Health, Prevention and Promotion Team in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. In addition to these roles, she served as a teaching assistant for graduate research courses at the masters and doctoral level in both Educational Studies and Higher Education departments.
Beryl has variety of research interests, including a recent study into understanding parental involvement among Ghanaian immigrants in the U.S.A. She also conducted a methodological research into understanding the mixed methods reporting quality in published comparative and international education journals as part of her dissertation work.
When not working, Beryl enjoys watching movies, reading, cooking, and traveling to new places.
Early Learning Specialist
Lauren Peterson is a new addition to The Research Institute, joining the Center on Early Learning as an Early Childhood Project Specialist. Lauren has worked in early childhood services for 25 years in both education and social services settings. She has been a Head Start supervisor, preschool teacher, program owner and director. Additionally, Lauren has been Adjunct Faculty in Early Childhood/Elementary Education at Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University. Lauren has a B.A. in Sociology and a Master’s In Education. Areas of interest include curriculum development, early childhood environments and education policy. Lauren has two daughters and too many dogs.
Early Learning Project Communication Specialist
Amy Rizo works at the Center on Early Learning and Youth Development at TRI as an Early Learning Project Communication Specialist for Spark, Oregon’s Quality Rating and Improvement System. Amy has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Art and Art History from Western Oregon University. She has extensive experience working with culturally and linguistically diverse populations, visual communication, and advocating for equitable practices and cultural awareness.
Spark ERS Coordinator
Candice (Candi) Scott is the Spark Environment Rating Scales (ERS) Coordinator for the Center on Early Learning & Youth Development. She earned her MS in Counseling and BA in Elementary Education from Oregon State University. She has served as an instructor and head teacher at Oregon State University's Child Development Center, as a Head Start teacher, and as an elementary teacher in the Corvallis, Lebanon, and Hermiston school districts. She has worked in the field for over 30 years. Candi began working at TRI in 2013 as a TA Specialist for Central Coordination of Child Care Resource & Referral. Since then, she has also worked as a TA Specialist for Oregon's Spark and as the Project Director of Training/TA for Oregon's 21st Century Community Learning Centers. When not working, Candi enjoys spending time with her family and friends, walking, reading, and watching sports.
Early Learning Specialist
Nathan Winegardner is a Bilingual Early Learning Project Specialist at The Research Institute (TRI) at Western Oregon University. He earned his Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and Spanish Literature from the University of Oregon. Nathan’s early learning expertise comes from his experience at Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency Head Start where he worked as a home visitor and program administrator from 2007 to 2015.
He started his position at TRI in 2015. Since then, he has worked on various Spanish translation projects for TRI and Spark Oregon’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), running the Diverse Language Cohort call, supporting Central Coordination of Child Care Resource & Referral (CCCCR&R), and supporting the revision/maintenance of Spark Oregon’s QRIS. He has also director Project Fund and OPK Extended Duration Playbook project. Nathan has presented at local, statewide, and national conference on topics ranging from Circle of Security to the importance translation in the field of early learning.
When not working, Nathan enjoys being outside (when it’s not too hot and not to cold), paintball (like tag for adults), painting, remodeling (see Tom Hanks in Money Pit), and spending time with his wife Heather and his children.