Federal grants help stabilize child care programs in Oregon during pandemic | Part 1

When COVID-19 struck in 2020, families and child care providers were left to navigate the uncertainty of the virus. Some parents decided to keep their children out of care, while providers struggled to hire and retain staff and keep pace with expenses.

In response, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 offered states federal funding to help stabilize child care programs. Oregon received approximately $224 million in grant funding to pay directly to qualified child care providers throughout the state.

The COVID-19 Child Care Stabilization grants have been used to cover increased expenses for providers, including personnel costs, rent or mortgage payments, COVID-related supplies, training and professional development related to health and safety practices, mental health supports, and reimbursement of costs associated with the public health emergency.

To receive these funds, a child care program had to be open and providing care and apply before the end of 2021. In all, 3,286 programs in Oregon received grant funding – this includes 94% of Certified Family providers, 84% of Registered Family, 88% of Certified Centers and 54% of license-exempt Employment Related Day Care providers.

We’re introducing you to three child care providers who used these dollars to remain open, while making program improvements or supporting their staff.

Karsyn’s Home Day Kare in Eugene
finds flexibility to expand

Karsyn Lovendahl stands in her home-based child care's main indoor playroom[fruitful_sep]Karsyn Lovendahl stands in the indoor playroom at her home-based child care in Eugene. Lovendahl was able to use stabilization grant funding to expand the space to care for children.[fruitful_sep]

Karsyn Lovendahl operates a registered family child care out of her home in Eugene called Karsyn’s Home Day Kare. She has a license to care for 10 children in program but currently cares for up to six children each day, including two infants. When Lovendahl and her husband bought their current home several years ago, they used the daylight basement as a home for her father-in-law. The 1,100 square foot space came equipped with a small kitchenette, laundry, living space, and bath.

“When we bought the house, it was always my dream to remodel the daylight basement space into more day care space,” she said. “But, after my father-in-law moved out, we realized that it would make better sense to move our living space to the basement and expand the day care space upstairs.”

Now, Lovendahl is using her grant to realize her newly revised dream.

“I’m really looking forward to adding kid-friendly furnishings to make this dream come true,” she continued. “Our expanded space will include a quiet area for the infants that can be separate from the others as needed.”

“This grant was the perfect opportunity at the right time for us. Keeping the space upstairs makes it much easier for morning drop-offs and evening pick-ups.” said Karsyn. “With this expanded space, I may be able to hire an assistant expand my capacity.”

[fruitful_sep]Karsyn’s Home Day Kare improved the drop-off and pick-up space for families.[fruitful_sep]

Note: This is part 1 in a series of three profiles. You can read part 2 here.