Many local child care advocates have been calling on the state legislature to invest more in the program since 2021.
The state legislature expanded eligibility for the employment related daycare program in 2021.
But child care advocates said the legislature didn’t increase funding for the program enough to fully implement those changes.
For families across Oregon, finding child care is especially difficult right now due to dwindling availability and rising costs.
That’s where the employment related daycare program is designed to help.
The program gives subsidies for child care to families that make up to 200% of the federal poverty level.
“Over half of businesses in Oregon are referencing child care as an issue,” Family Forward Oregon’s Courtney Veronneau said, “even with all of the families that we’re serving now, Oregon is only funding about 15% of the eligible population.”
But now, the program plans to create a wait list starting in early November, meaning it will no longer enroll applicants into the program.
Governor Tina Kotek has already called on the legislature for at least $50 million to address the gap in funding.
“It was absolutely something that we saw coming,” Veronneau said, “the knowledge was there, the need was there, the resources were there… this was about choices and that was a choice that lawmakers made.”
The employment related daycare program is still accepting applications until the November 4th deadline.
Verronneau encourages anyone who thinks they might qualify to apply within the next month.
“As long as your application is submitted by 11:59 p.m. on November 3rd. If you qualify, if it turns out you’re eligible for the program, you will bypass that wait list,” Veronneau said.
You can still apply for the program at the Department of Early Learning Care’s website, or over the phone.
You can can also visit your local DHS office to see if you qualify.
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