BANDON - Over the past few years, the availability of licensed child care in Bandon has dwindled. For the estimated 250 children in Bandon under the age of 5, according to Southwestern Oregon Community College’s Childcare Resource and Referral, there are only two available licensed slots for children under 30 months and 30 slots for children under the age of 5.
“The entire South Coast, including Bandon, is considered a child care desert according to a recent study at Oregon State University” said SWOCC’s Childhood Education Director Taya Noland.
In response to the dire need for child care solutions for working parents, a collaborative group in Bandon, including educators, local health organizations, philanthropy and local businesses, convened to create a child care center for the community.
Immediately, the Bandon School District stepped up and offered some unused space at Ocean Crest Elementary School, where the kindergarten rooms were once located.
“This partnership is a great opportunity to collaborate for early learning to get our future Tiger Cubs ready to enter kindergarten” said Ocean Crest Elementary School Principal Becky Armistead.
“Parents often call the school in need of child care and the Bandon Community Child Care Center will be a way for working families to have a safe, educational and play based environment for their children," Armistead said.
In creating this opportunity for the Bandon community, the collaborative group was looking for a partner organization that could provide the fiscal and administrative oversight needed for long term sustainability. South Coast Business Employment Corporation stepped up in light of both the need and opportunity. SCBEC’s CEO Melissa Metz is particularly looking forward to this opportunity to better serve the South Coast.
“SCBEC has a vision of thriving people living in vibrant communities," Metz said. "We are excited to expand our services that will make such an important impact on the lives of families through this program.”
The Bandon Community Child Care Center is scheduled to open in early September following completion of all required licensing and site preparation. Initial plans are to serve four infants and toddlers and 10 preschoolers, eventually expanding to nine infants and toddlers and 20 preschoolers. Initial funding assistance is being provided by Wild Rivers Coast Alliance, Oregon Community Foundation and The Ford Family Foundation. Additional funding is needed for center operations, programs and scholarships to assist working families to afford the cost of the child care.
Through South Coast Business Employment Corporation, Paula Thompson, a former child care provider in Bandon, is assisting in getting this center up and running in coordination with an advisory team. Parents with initial interest in child care should follow this link (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/B9MNT2K), and fill out the online Child Care Interest Form as enrollment priority will follow submitted interest forms. In addition, organizers are now hiring a program director for the Bandon Community Child Care Center. For more information on the position and to apply visit this link (https://scbec1.applicantstack.com/x/detail/a2tyw8pdgrx4). Any questions or interest in providing donations or assistance, contact SCBEC or Thompson at infoBCCCC@scbec.org.