Governor Brown’s recommended 2019-2021 budget will invest $36.9M into early care and education. Investments include child care supply and quality, preschool & kindergarten readiness, workforce quality, and community-based family and parenting support.
Baby Promise is one of several proposals that addresses the child care shortage throughout the State and includes efforts to incentivize more providers to provide quality care. This program will aim $10M at increasing the supply of quality and affordable infant and toddler care. Baby Promise is designed to be the contracted slot subsidy program.
Children will begin transitioning off this program around two and a half through an extensive transition process that partners with the family. By three, they are ready for the next step in the process which may include moving into a Head Start slot, family care or center environment that does not have a publicly funded slot for preschool aged children, or to a private-pay enrollment opportunity. To read more about the Baby Promise program, click here: https://oregonearlylearning.com/baby-promise.
Preschool Promise (Oregon’s Preschool program) will bring in $169.7M will create six times more slots (nearly 6600) for families at 200 percent of Federal Poverty level or below. There are about 30,000 low-income kids who have no access to preschool which is s key success driver for kindergarten. To read more about the Preschool Promise program, click here: https://orearlylearningdev.brewhousepdx.com/preschool-promise.
To read more about the Governor’s priorities see: “Education Policy Agenda: Every Oregon Student Engaged, Empowered, and Future Ready” at https://www.oregon.gov/gov/priorities/Documents/Education%20Policy%20Agenda%208.27.18.pdf
Did you know that there are many different types of childcare services? Ever heard of a relief nursery? South Coast Family Harbor is a non-profit organization that is part of the Oregon Association of Relief Nurseries (OARN). SCDC recently met with Tracie Skinner, Executive Director, of the South Coast Family Harbor (SCFH), to talk about the special services they offer.
The South Coast Family Harbor program is patterned after other relief nurseries throughout the U.S. The Relief Nursery concept is a nationally recognized non-profit model proven to protect young children while strengthening high-risk, multi-stressed families. Relief nurseries are supported by private and public partnerships, and gains strength through community involvement, financial donations, and volunteers.
The goal of a relief nursery is to help the family stay safe, together, and thriving by providing therapeutic early childhood development services for children and comprehensive family support. As part of this they offer several programs including therapeutic early childhood classrooms (for children 2-4), home visitations, consultations with Mental Health child therapists, respite care programs (Fridays 1:00-3:30 pm), parenting classes (First and Third Fridays from 12:30-2:30 pm), plus resource and referral services. They hope to add an additional day to their respite care program this spring.
“We are the first Relief Nursery on the Oregon Coast” Ms. Skinner added. Many of our smaller communities could use some help. The program, she indicated, is growing faster all the time, due to increasing needs related to financial stability and substance abuse. Coos County has the highest child abuse victim rate per 1,000 children in the State of Oregon.1
There are many at risk families on the Oregon Coast. At risk families are identified through a weighted risk analysis. Once identified, services provided by the Harbor can be extended to all children in a family that are under the age of 15. The type of services can include recommendations, referrals, mental health consultations, home teacher visits, as well as, therapeutic classrooms for children 2-4. The goal is to create stronger networks for keeping children safe.
We are “Helping Families Help Themselves” Ms. Skinner said. “Families are coming here,” she continued, “willing to work with us.” “We are not a mandated program,” she summed up indicating that assistance is confidential, and staff are licensed and required to sign confidentiality contracts as established under Oregon Archives 423-045-0101.
The Oregon Association of Relief Nurseries program was created to help prevent child abuse and neglect by employing individualized community supports, such as the SCFH, to strengthen high-risk families and keep children safe, healthy, and ready to learn. It all started back in 1976. The Junior League of Eugene created the Lane County Relief Nursery and began providing respite care to a handful of children in borrowed space in a church basement. In 1984, Jean Phelps was hired and the Relief Nursery model developed and flourished.
The SCFH started out about five years ago here in Coos Bay under the title “Nurturing Center” and evolved the second year as a “Relief Nursery” under the Southwestern Community College umbrella. In 2015, the SCFH received their 501©3 non-profit status. As a non-profit they provide services to qualifying families at no charge.
In Oregon, the program has grown to include 30-31 locations (both centers and satellite locations). Ms. Skinner indicated that Oregon will be adding two centers and seven satellite locations this year. They are also looking “for other ways to serve the community.” This could include an infant day care program, classroom expansion, expanded educational services, and increase the number of families in the home based/outreach services.
To do this, they rely on a public and private partnership which includes grants, fund raising events, and fun events. To check in on the most recent activity follow this link: https://mtyc.co/j04lxf. Two main fund-raising events occur each year: Starry, Starry Night in May and Casino Night in September/October.
Ms. Skinner indicated that they will also be participating in the Festival of Trees program this year. The SCFH tree will have a Disney theme and will be auctioned off. The tree will then be given back with gifts to a needy family right before Christmas break. Very exciting!
There is, depending on the season, a waiting list of families hoping to get in. This time of year, the list is short. If you are interested in learning more, participating, or supporting the Harbor please visit their website at southcoastfamilyharbor.org or call 541-982-3090. SCFH is located at 250 Hull, Coos Bay, OR on the edge of the Southwestern Oregon Community College campus.
1 South Coast Family Harbor Board Manual, 2018, section 10.
In February, Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reintroduced the “Right Start Child Care and Education Act” which will help to make child care more affordable for working class families. Oregon is notorious for having some of the highest child care costs in the nation 1/. The goal is to amend the Federal tax code to:
--Increase outdated dollar limits on eligible child care expenses for families. This would raise the overall percentage range, the maximum expense amount, and the maximum income one can have to take advantage of the maximum credit (which has also been raised). The bill also increases the maximum amount for employer-provided flexible spending accounts.
--Make child care tax credit fully refundable. The lowest income families are eligible for the tax credits but often only receive a small share of the benefits due to the lack of tax liabilities. This proposal will make the credit refundable to more low-income families and increase benefits for middle income families.
--Provide a tax credit for educated childcare professionals of $2,000 per year for up to three years. To qualify you would need a degree in early childhood education, child care, or a related subject, and are working at licensed child care facility.
--Increase tax credits for businesses that support child care benefits for employees. This proposal increases the tax credit, and also increases the total allowable credit. To read more about this proposal go to: http://usa.childcareaware.org/2019/01/new-child-care-affordability-legislation-introduced/
There is also a fee assistance program proposal for supporting military families that are not able to get on-installation care on the horizon and ensure that the families are mission ready. To read more about this program go do: http://usa.childcareaware.org/2018/12/fee-assistance-programs-serving-supporting-military-families/
1/ “How unaffordable is childcare in Oregon? New report ranks costs.” https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2017/12/childcare_is_really_unaffordab.html
How does childcare relate to Business Expansion and Retention (BRE)? Supporting BRE activities is a key part of the South Coast Development Council, Inc. mission. Obtaining quality childcare is critical for attracting and retaining talent in our community. Investments in childcare provide positive short-term economic stimulus on the broader economy, and have positive long-term effects of increasing effective demand and promoting quality. Childcare is also an important predominantly female-owned small business sector that may not know how to leverage BRE resources. This help includes ways to expand their businesses or relocate to larger venues, developing backup service strategies, retaining and recruiting new employees and solving workforce challenges, attracting donors, utilizing grants, and leveraging other business resources and benefits. Bringing awareness to this sector is one way to help educate the public, attract donors, benefit our future generation of workers, and support our community.
True or False: Generally, full-time childcare costs more per month than a mortgage payment
Late last month the Child Care for Working Families Act of 2019 (S. 568) was reintroduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA). Originally introduced in September 2017, the Act did not have the needed support. Today, however, there are multiple bills and actions at all levels of government related to childcare.
If the S. 568 were to become law, it would cap childcare at seven percent for families living under the 150 percent of state median income level. If a family does not fall under this threshold, the Act provides some significant tax and education incentives that could dramatically reduce overall costs for all families. What does this mean for Oregon families?
True or False: The cost of childcare has increased approximately 24 percent in the past decade
To illustrate, let’s look at the median family 2017 income for Oregon of $64,610, which was slightly higher than US average of $61,372 family income. Oregon is positioned about in the middle of the national income list, ranking at #27.1/ Based on the seven percent cap, the cost of childcare for a median family could be around $4,522.7 per year. Average costs for full-time care in Oregon (2017) varies depending on the child’s age and needs, but the averages costs speak volumes: approximately $9,822 for a four-year-old, $12,442 for a toddler, and $13,292 for an infant. 2/
True or False: The cost of enrolling an infant full-time in a care center may exceed the average cost of in-state college tuition at public four-year institutions
The bill goes well beyond this cost reduction cap, touching access, training and compensation for child care workers, and improving care. There are for seven additional bullet points:3/
1. Providing cost-sharing between the Federal government and States to provide high-quality, affordable child care from birth through age 13 (see also “Baby Promise” which is a similar Oregon State grant that is being piloted in three regions in Oregon, including Coos County).
True or False: The average bill for a full-time 4-year-old in a care center is over $9,500 per year or $791 per month
2. Double the number of children eligible for child care assistance and ensure all those who are eligible have the ability to enroll their child in a quality program.
3. Provide incentives and funding for states to create high-quality preschool programs for 3- and 4-year olds from low and moderate-income families during the school day, while providing higher matching rate for infant and toddler programs (who are typically more expensive to care for and are harder to place).
4. Increase workforce training and compensation, including ensuring that all child care workers are paid at least a living wage, at parity with elementary school teachers if they have similar credentials and experience.
True or False: This Act could increase the need for skilled childcare workers nationally by more than 700,000 jobs and allow 1.6 million parents to return to work
5. Improve care in a variety of settings, including addressing the needs of family, friend, and neighbor care and care during non-traditional hours to help meet the needs of working families.
6. Build more inclusive, high-quality child care for children including infants and toddlers with increased funding for individuals under the Disabilities Education Act.
7. Help all Head Start programs meet the new expanded duration requirements to provide full day, full -year programming.
True or False: The funding sources for this bill have not been identified
Should this Act be approved the benefits could potentially begin in 2020 as detailed in the Act which outlines state payments, sliding scales, quality improvement grants, and more. There’s just one little ‘fly in the ointment’... where will the $8 billion come from every year?4/
Oh yeah, the answers? They are all true, and worthy of further discussions.
1/ A Closer Look at Oregon’s Median Household Income (https://www.qualityinfo.org/-/a-closer-look-at-oregon-s-median-household-income) by Nick Beleiciks, March 1, 2019
2 / The US and the High Cost of Child Care, 2018 Report (https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/reports/2014/09/24/96903/the-middle-class-squeeze/) and Appendix (https://info.childcareaware.org/hubfs/appendices%2010.19.18.pdf)
3/ Child Care for Working Families Act of 2019 Summary (https://www.help.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/CCFWFA%20Fact%20Sheet%20116th%20Congress%20FINAL.pdf
4/ Senate Bill S. 568 (https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/568/text)
For More Information see: http://usa.childcareaware.org/2019/02/child-care-advocates-applaud-reintroduction-of-child-care-for-working-families-act/
1Think about having your own inhouse childcare service. This can be a great alternative!
For parents: Having your child onsite is really a wonderful convenient luxury. It helps with transportation, provides easy access for parental care (checking on, medicine, or other problems).
For the business: Having good quality, dependable care can reduce absenteeism, anxiety, and stress for your employees. It also provides an opportunity for you to offer this as an incentive for attracting that hard to find employee. It may also be possible to manage or reduce the costs, such as having the cost come out of pre-tax dollars, partial offsets, part of an employee award system, through grants, etc.
Other opportunities: You may want to contract for this service or make them a regular employee. Either way, offering them some of the same benefits (like retirement or health care) might help you recruit a higher skilled worker, as many of the smaller care businesses do not always have that.
Share the cost: The support for this offering could be shared with other neighboring companies. You may be able to arrange for an intermittent provider to make sure all bases are covered if the normal provider staff becomes ill, takes a vacation, court attendance, etc. Having a back up strategy will really help reduce parental worry.
2 Offer flexible working hours. Even a little flexibility might help employees meet pick-up and delivery schedules or care. This could include working a 4-10 (four days, 10 hours), slipping start/end time by 15 minutes, etc. This could also be useful for employees that are attending evening classes or other activities that support your community. Be sure to advertise that you do this to support your employees and families in your recruitment notices.
3 Contract with local providers (large and small). This contract could do several things such as reserve ‘first choice’ for your employees over other care seekers, reserve a couple of automatically paid for seats for your company (like renting an apartment in a city where employees frequently need to travel to).
4 ‘Grow Your Own:’ Talk to your own employees to see if there are any spouses/young adults interested in providing these services which could be provide onsite or in a home. There could be more than one provider, depending on your needs. The need for a provider could be a part of, or mentioned, as part of a recruitment effort for other positions in the company (‘We need an XYZ employee and are also interested in trailing spouses/young adults that might be interested or experienced in...).
5 Help the community ‘grow their own.’ Contract to become part of a larger effort such as a educational training or certification program. The larger effort may be willing to refer your company for potential employment to recent graduate of a program or certification program, or perhaps even with a work study program, care or nursing apprentice/intern.
6 Look for something different than a day care worker. For instance, your company may run long hours and a regular day care provider just can’t fill that need. It may be necessary to look for different kinds of services such as a nanny that your business could recommend to employees or have on available. A nanny may be a better choice for households with several children.
7 Create trade deals. This could include trading services, scholarships, apprenticeships, etc. for service. This might work well for someone looking for a part-time job. Cobble a couple of these together and you may be able to cover all of the bases.
8 Look for or create a Referral service. There are referral services for all kinds of things like home remodeling, senior care, etc. Be sure to check for referral services in your area and if you don’t one, consider starting a new business!
9 Communicate. Word of mouth can be very useful in small communities. Don’t be shy to talk about or post notices on what you are looking for, contacting the local unemployment office, talking with local economic developers or Chamber of commerce folks, etc. Word of mouth has built huge companies in the past and can be very effective!
Got more ideas? Let us know!
Quality childcare is critical to business retention and expansion (BRE). What do you do when you can't find it and lose scarce talent when it is not readily available to your employees? Maybe there is a different way to think about the problem and help on the way.