EUGENE, Ore. -- Financial help could soon be on its way for child care workers in the form of $50 billion.
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Sen. Ron Wyden called on leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives to provide $50 billion to support the already-struggling child care sector in the next coronavirus pandemic response package.
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Funding for the child care sector would be used in three ways:
- Additional funding to help essential and emergency workers cover the cost of child care during the pandemic
- Dedicated funding or structured grants to help child care providers cover operating expenses with appropriate oversight mechanisms
- Hazard pay, robust labor standards, and personal protective equipment for child care workers.
According to a recent report by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, one out of four Oregon child care providers would not survive a closure of more than two weeks without additional funding, and one out of five reported they could not survive a closure of any length.
Belia Navarro is the owner of La Escuelita. They provide day care for infants to 12-year-olds. She said with so many people out of a job or working from home, they are taking care of fewer kids and had to let staff go. She said unless they get financial help soon, they may have to close their doors by the end of the month.
"I think it would be very difficult for families to go back to work without child care providers," Navarro said. "Because if we are closed, how are people going to go back to work if there is nobody there."
Theya Harvey is the program director for Quality Care Connections, Lane County's child care resource and referral agency. She said roughly 100 day cares have closed their doors temporarily because of COVID-19. She said many are worried that it won't be easy to get their customers back once this is all over.
"I'm really confident that our community will come out on the other side of this working together," Harvey said "I just hope we are able to respond quickly enough to preserve some of these smaller programs."
She said day care providers can reach out to them for assistance while their office works from home.