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Federal Grants Help Stabilize Child Care Programs In Oregon During Pandemic | Part 2


Note: This is part 2 in a series of three profiles on child care providers who received COVID-19 Child Care Stabilization grants. You can read the first part here.

Bilingual program offers care to families of essential workers

Sabi Valesco at her Aloha location of Amazing Minds Child Development Center and Preschools.

Sabi Valesco owns and operates two English/Spanish bilingual certified day care and preschool programs: Amazing Minds Child Development Center and Preschools in Aloha and in Northwest Portland.

When the pandemic began, all of the children cared for at the Portland center stayed home with their parents because they were able to work from home. But in the Aloha center, parents who were essential workers still needed a place to send their children. With the Portland location closed, Valesco had to flex programs and staff to keep her Aloha center open for the 10 to 13 children she served daily, rather than the usual 16 children at each center. Closing the center meant a significant loss in income, but the bills at that location were still coming, including expenses for rent and utilities.

“I didn’t think my business was going to be able to survive, but the grant allowed me to pay necessary expenses during the pandemic,” said Valesco. “My families were so grateful that I could keep my Aloha location open and care for their children in a safe environment. The Early Learning Division was a huge help, providing me with supplies to help during the pandemic, including things like personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer. I was able to give masks to my families, who couldn’t get them elsewhere.”

In addition to paying the bills, Valesco was able to make some improvements to her centers. She bought new furniture and made other upgrades.

“We pulled out carpeting and replaced the flooring with linoleum, which can be cleaned thoroughly,” she said. “We also bought a washer and dryer for the center, which helps immensely. Now I don’t have to go to the laundromat on weekends to wash everyone’s bedding.”

Valesco, who was forced to adapt like so many during the pandemic, said the funding offered some peace of mind.

“This grant not only allowed me to keep my business going, but provide necessary child care throughout the pandemic,” she said. “Additionally, I was able to give my hard-working staff a bonus as a thank you. I honestly don’t know if I would have made it without the support of the grant and the ELD.”

The stabilization grant allowed Valesco to upgrade the flooring in her daycare to a waterproof vinyl plank that is easier to sanitize. She was also able to upgrade some of the furniture and pay her staff bonuses.