Oregon child care providers will have an opportunity to apply for funding this winter through the Child Care Capacity Building Fund (CCCBF).
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CCCBF Co-Chairs Amy Powers and Courtney Helstein discussed the grant program during a House Interim Committee on Early Childhood meeting on Wednesday. Powers said the state needs expanded child care services, as slots are scarce and extremely expensive.
“These challenges were made worse during the height of the pandemic when many programs were overextending their savings to try and stay open,” Powers said. “Some closed for good. The fund aims to address the scarcity of slots by creating new capacity and programs across the state. And we are focused on doing this in a way that addresses systemic barriers that have made it difficult for providers. Especially [for] providers who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color to open child care programs, expand them, and stay in business.”
Seeding Justice, a nonprofit that advocates for social justice, will administer the funds. Helstein said $22 million was allocated to Seeding Justice to invest in building the supply of available child care in partnership with a community-based steering committee. Culturally-specific community-based organizations, tribal governments, educational institutions, child care resource and referral agencies, early learning hubs, and joint labor management trusts are eligible for grants.
“We’ve been working since June to create the infrastructure to administer the funds and design a process by which funds will go out to communities across the state to really meet those needs,” Helstein said.
Funds can be used for initial operating costs, business supports, workforce supports, renovations, and capital projects, Helstein said. Registered subsidy child care providers, recorded child care providers, licensed child care providers, relief nurseries, Head Start programs, and school districts can apply.
Rep. John Lively (D-Springfield) asked whether there was any type of assurance that applicants who receive funds will be successful.
“The reality is the failure rate of small businesses, and these are small businesses, is extremely high in the first year or two for a lot of different reasons,” Lively said. “To get enough space, get permits, and get it started is one thing. What’s the plan or follow-up after they’re operating so we know a year later we still have it?”
Helstein said grant distributors have planned to monitor award winners.
“We don’t just want to build in technical assistance through the grant-making process,” Helstein said. “We also want to build out the services through the entire length of the project. This capacity building grant fund is funded through AARPA dollars and we are required through the contract to have those funds expended by September 2025. Our goal is to do what we can to set our fund up so that it’s not like, ‘OK, here’s the money, have fun.’ We’re sticking with these folks and following them through.”
Applications will be submitted in January 2023, and initial awards will be distributed then as well.
More information can be found at childcarefororegon.org/grants.