Bonamici Launches Oregon Child Care Advisory Board
WASHINGTON, DC [09/2/2020] – Today Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) announced the launch of the Oregon Child Care Advisory Board to address the child care crisis in Oregon and across the country.
The group of child care providers, parents, and advocates will meet regularly to share ideas and advise the Congresswoman as she works to stabilize and vastly improve the child care industry. All 36 counties in Oregon were considered to be child care deserts for infants and toddlers before the pandemic, with only one child care slot for every three children who need care. Now many child care providers are on the brink of permanent closure because of COVID-19.
“Child care is one of the most pressing challenges we must address during this pandemic and beyond, and it’s an issue of equity,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “I’ve been meeting regularly with parents, child care providers, educators, and advocates to discuss what needs to be done about the child care crisis, and their feedback has been vital. I’ve assembled the Oregon Child Care Advisory Board to have an ongoing channel of communication for these important conversations about how to make child care more affordable and accessible for all.”
“Our lack of care infrastructure is devastating to families, to communities of color, to women, to public health, and to our economy as a whole,” Andrea Paluso, Executive Director of Family Forward Oregon. “We look forward to working with Congresswoman Bonamici and the entire Advisory Board on bold policy solutions that will address these failures and put us on a path not only to recovery, but to rebuilding a stronger and more equitable economy.”
“The current child care crisis is the result of an underfunded and improperly structured early education system,” said Zakkiyya Ibrahim, Owner/Director of Education Explorers, LLC. “The lack of recognition for child care as Early Education has caused devastating inequalities to children, their families and the economy as a whole. We look forward to working with Congresswoman Bonamici to help rebuild an equitable Early Education system that allows all children to have access to high quality and culturally relevant child care. A system that recognizes all teachers as educators despite the age of their students.”
Bonamici will select up to 12 members to serve on the Oregon Child Care Advisory Board each Congress (every two years). The first Advisory Board held its inaugural meeting Thursday, and the members are:
- Donalda Dodson, Executive Director, Oregon Child Development Coalition
- Rachel Hansen, Statewide Childcare Coordinator, SEIU
- Shani Harris-Bagwell, Political Director, Portland African American Leadership Fund (PAALF)
- Dana Hepper, Director of Policy & Advocacy, Children’s Institute
- Zakkiyya Ibrahim, Owner/Director, Education Explorers, LLC
- Ricardo Lujan-Valerio, Latino Network
- Eva Manderson, NW Regional Child Care Resource and Referral Director, NW Regional Education Services District
- Hadiyah Miller, Black Child Development Coalition
- Andrea Paluso, Executive Director, Family Forward Oregon
- Laura Rawlins, Co-founder and Deputy Director, Funny Farm Early Learning Center, Inc
- Sara Stearns, Executive Director, Oregon Association for the Education of Young Children (ORAEYC)
Many parents are struggling to balance work with caring for and educating their children as many schools reopen without in-person classes. This morning the Congresswoman was joined by eight womxn who own a variety of small businesses to discuss the challenges they are facing. The womxn are all affiliated with XXcelerate Fund, a Portland organization that supports womxn-led businesses. Video of the event can be found here.
"Since March, women business owners have called on XXcelerate seeking support, direction, community, resources and relief from chaos,” said Amy Jermain, Executive Director of XXcelerate. “They are exhausted and overwhelmed. Most are out of bandwidth, can no longer juggle their competing responsibilities, and are worried about declining revenues. We have heard from them that with schools closed and little childcare options, they face no other choice but to abandon entrepreneurship to fulfill the role of full time mom, teacher, household caretaker and for some, elderly caregiver. With resources and support, we preserve and invest in a generation of gains made in women's business ownership; like their financial freedom and impactful contributions to our local economy."
Bonamici has long advocated for increased investments in the child care system, especially during COVID-19. She recently released an in-depth report on the state of child care in Oregon and across the nation, “Child Care in Crisis: Solutions to Support Working Families, Children, and Educators.” The report was informed by conversations with Oregon child care providers, early childhood educators, parents, and other advocates. It contains many of their stories and outlines a legislative path forward.
The House recently passed legislation backed by Bonamici, the Child Care is Essential Act, which will establish a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund to provide grants to child care providers who need support. The grants could be used to give tuition and copayment relief to families, as well as to help child care providers remain open by covering increased expenses. Bonamici also recently led 23 members of Congress in introducing a House resolution that calls for affordable, high-quality child care for all who need it.