I’m dedicated to measuring the success of our state based on how our children and families are doing. And we can do much, much better. That’s why I’m proposing steps aimed at lowering childcare and early learning costs, increasing compensation and training to recruit and retain high quality educators, creating more childcare slots, and treating childcare like the crucial economic support that it is. After all, not only do our kids and families benefit from high-quality, affordable childcare, but our economic recovery depends on it.
Families across Oregon are struggling to find and afford childcare. The costs of quality childcare are high relative to income: single parents earning Oregon’s median income are paying over 50% of their income for infant care and 40% for preschoolers. For many, childcare is hard to find: 72% of communities in Oregon are classified as “childcare deserts,” meaning there are not enough childcare slots for the number of kids who need them. The childcare workforce is under-compensated leading to high turnover and not enough professionals available to provide care. And disruptions to the childcare industry stemming from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have only made an already difficult situation worse with 94,000 Oregonians unable to go back to work due to a lack of stable, affordable childcare. With parents making up around 30% of our workforce, long term economic recovery is tied to our commitment to improving this sector.
As Governor, I will support measures to:
Lower childcare and early learning costs for middle- and lower-income families.
- Provide free universal pre-K to all Oregon children
- Create a state-level family child tax credit for low and moderate-income Oregonians
- Improved oversight of the new Department of Early Learning and Care
- Work with the Employment Department to ensure efficient implementation of the Paid Family Leave Program after its delay
- Expand the Employment-Related Daycare Program so more low-income families have access to affordable childcare. Lower copays for participating families–Oregon’s monthly copayment as a percentage of income for a family of 3 at 150% of the FPL is the 2nd worst in the country
- Expand investments in Relief Nurseries which serve the most vulnerable families through therapeutic classrooms and wrap around families services
Creating more childcare facilities and slots across the state.
- Establish a strong public-private partnership designed to help child care and early learning programs develop safe, high quality learning environments, modeled after the Rhode Island Child Care and Early Learning Facilities Fund
- Work with local governments to convert unused commercial space into childcare space and community centers
- Work with providers to establish networks that can take advantage of scale to consolidate certain functions and reduce costs, such as sharing administrative staff to manage enrollment, tuition, and payroll, to shared substitute pools and professional development offerings, to bulk purchasing of supplies
Stabilizing and supporting the childcare workforce.
- Use federal pandemic funding for bonus pay for childcare workers
- Reward degree completion for employees with wage supplements and tax credits
- Establish a centralized system of professional development, workshops, trainings, and college coursework through the DELC
- Connect workforce housing expansion to our childcare workforce needs, and better align our state housing investments with expansion of dedicated childcare facilities
Support childcare providers as small businesses.
- Improve access to COVID rapid testing
- Provide technical support and access to loans and grants to quality, facility upgrades and workforce support