This article was originally published by My Oregon News on April 10, 2020.
By Melanie Mesaros
OREGON – While licensed child care is closed in Oregon, Emergency Child Care is available for those who must continue to leave their homes to go to work. They include health care professionals, first responders, those who work in food or agriculture (including grocery, farming, and restaurant workers), utilities workers, transportation workers, shipping workers, and many more who are still performing their jobs during the COVID-19 emergency. Click here to read the full list of eligible roles.
Essential workers in need of Emergency Child Care can contact 211info for a customized referral to programs with openings. Families can also text the keyword “children” or “niños” to 898211 (TXT211). Families in need of financial assistance may qualify for funding through the Employment Related Daycare (ERDC) program.
“Many child care providers are answering the call to serve their communities by caring for the children of Oregonians who will help us get through this public health emergency,” said Early Learning System Director Miriam Calderon. “Providers operating today are being asked to follow more stringent guidelines around cleaning and safety to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of staff and children in care.”
As part of Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order 20-12, child care providers were ordered to close unless they were providing Emergency Child Care. The Early Learning Division approved applications of more than 1,900 child care providers choosing to remain open for emergency care. With about half of the state’s licensed child care providers still providing care, Oregon has the ability to serve approximately 10,000 children and families of essential workers.
Some school districts are also serving essential families with Emergency Child Care per the governor’s directive, but the current demand is low. School-based Emergency Child Care serves essential families with kindergarten to 12-year-old children. With so much licensed child care currently available across the state, school districts have instead been directed to be ready to establish school-based Emergency Child Care within three business days to fulfill a need in their community if contacted by the Oregon Department of Education.
“Child care providers deserve our gratitude,” said Calderon. “Their role is critical to ensuring our doctors, nurses, and other essential workers are able to serve on the front lines.”