COOS COUNTY — Right now, only emergency child-care is available to local parents as a result of the pandemic.
But according to Taya Noland, who’s the childhood education director at Southwestern Oregon Community College, SWOCC has received $1,385,000 to support child care on the South Coast through the school’s Southwest Coast’s Baby Promise program, one of the first in the state to open.
Specifically, the grant went to SWOCC's CARE Connections Child Care Resource and Referral program to implement the Baby Promise.
“(Baby Promise) will benefit families by increasing availability and quality of infant and toddler care,” read a press release from the college.
“It also will support in-home providers and certified centers in Coos, Curry and western Douglas counties.”
The funding will serve two purposes. One will be to pay for the enrollment of up to 40 infants and toddlers in South Coast child-care programs.
“Families whose income is at or below 185% of the federal poverty line are eligible to have the entire cost of child care covered for infants or toddlers in these spots,” read a press release from SWOCC.
The second purpose of the funding is to help child-care providers stay in business, which is “especially crucial at this time when child-care providers and other small businesses have been hard hit by COVID-19 closures. Baby Promise also will help stabilize child care in the region so parents are able to return to work when Oregon reopens,” according to the press release.
Although SWOCC was notified in January 2019 that it had been chosen for the grant, it didn’t receive a contact for some time thereafter. Noland said that to have the funds come through now is “perfect timing.”
“We are at a point where it’s all hands on deck in terms of support, and every child-care provider, depending how long this goes on, is in danger of closing,” she said. “Every time we lose a child-care provider, that’s 50 families who no longer have care.”
Noland said the funds will benefit those providers already displaying a specified level of quality and who agree to receive additional training and meet educational standards.
“Over the next year, with the current funding we have, we hope to support six to eight child-care programs, and those numbers may grow as time goes on.”
The funds are available immediately, but there is an application process requiring “quite a long period,” Noland said. She said SWOCC has been reaching out to eligible day cares to see what they need and how the program can help, as well as encouraging them to apply for the funding.
Families and Early Education Programs interested in participating in the Baby Promise program can call CARE Connections at 541-290-4299.