New Project to Strengthen Oregon’s Child Care Sector
Child Care Provider Re-open and Re-build Project
Oregon’s economic recovery requires that families have access to reliable, safe, affordable, quality child care for their children when they return to work. But as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, child care providers in Oregon have endured massive disruptions to their businesses and livelihoods. The new Child Care Provider Re-open and Re-build Project will support and strengthen Oregon’s crucial but struggling child care sector.
A nationwide survey conducted by the National Association for the Education of the Young Child shortly after the start of the pandemic caused widespread business disruptions indicated that 47% of child care providers had less than two weeks of operating revenue on hand to support their business during a closure. In Oregon, of the 168 providers who responded:
- 51% had lost income based on families’ own inability to pay.
- 27% said they would not survive closing for more than two weeks without significant public investment and support that would allow them to compensate and retain staff, pay rent, and cover other fixed costs.
Pre-COVID, small businesses and child care programs, largely owned and operated by women and people of color, had less access to capital and resources than larger, center-based mainstream programs. These disparities have only widened as the pandemic has progressed, as these same businesses and communities have struggled to access federal disaster relief or support.
At the outset of the pandemic approximately 40% of child care programs in Oregon closed their doors, many permanently. While recently distributed CARES Act dollars issued through Oregon’s Early Learning Division have helped remaining providers weather the pandemic, they are still struggling to stay financially viable.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color and low-income families. People of color are over-represented in COVID-19 infections and deaths, and pre-pandemic these same families had the least access to affordable, quality, child care options that align with their needs and cultural values.
The Child Care Provider Re-open and Re-build Project will mobilize resources for those who serve our most vulnerable and historically marginalized families by opening up opportunities for much needed capital and services that will make providing quality care safer, easier, more sustainable and better help providers build their own family wealth. OCF is supporting a planning phase for the project through the end of 2020 that will likely lead to a two-year implementation phase, in partnerships with the State of Oregon, other foundations, OCF donors and the business community.
Over the past two years, OCF has learned about a new model called Shared Services Alliances, which allows child care providers to create alliances where programs pool resources and hire centralized staff (such as payroll, enrolling and fee collection) to streamline operations and increase profitability. The model also includes in depth business, and program quality improvement coaching to support the sustainability and quality of participating programs. We’ve seen this model start to grow in Coos and Curry counties with the help of a multi-year grant from the OCF South Coast Leadership Council. This project looks to launch three to five pilots based on the Shared Services Alliance model, placing Oregon among the first states to pursue this strategy on a statewide basis.
Children are more likely to be contributing members of society as adults if they are cared for in quality, developmentally appropriate early care and learning settings, yet child care providers are more strained than ever. The Child Care Provider Re-open and Re-build Project is one step to help strengthen Oregon’s child care sector.
OCF welcomes donor support for the Child Care Provider Re-open and Re-build Project. To learn more, contact your donor relations officer, or if you’ve new to OCF, reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (503) 227-6846.