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Oregon Early Learning Division Highlights Child Care Options as Families Navigate COVID-19 and Return to School

(Salem, Ore.) – With in-person public schooling delayed in many communities across Oregon, families need to know what options are available for safe child care for their school-age children. The Early Learning Division (ELD), the state agency responsible for regulating early education and child care, is sharing information with families about how to make safe choices during this state of emergency.

“We know working families are making truly difficult decisions to balance their children’s care and education needs with their own responsibilities,” said Oregon Early Learning System Director Miriam Calderon. “We want to support parents in finding safe, affordable solutions, and regulations are in place to protect children and are even more important during a pandemic.”

Any care arrangement that meets the following criteria must follow the state’s COVID-19 safety and health practices and may also be regulated by the ELD:

  • Programs serving children from infancy through age 12; and
  • Programs serving school-age children that take the place of a parent’s care; and
  • Programs providing services to more than three children who are not related to the caregiver.

Families should consider their options to help them make informed choices about their children’s safety. Oregon law allows for exemptions to child care rules when family members and parents are the caregivers.

Families who chose to hire a caregiver using an informal care arrangement that brings together children from multiple households on a regular basis should also keep in mind COVID-19 safety and health practices. ELD recommends that families confirm all caregivers have passed a background check for criminal or child abuse history and that caregivers complete safety training such as CPR, First Aid, Safe Sleep for infants, etc.

“The fact that schools in Oregon are not yet able to operate in-person instruction has a disparate impact on working families in rural communities and communities of color,” said Calderon. “Prior to this emergency, these communities lacked enough affordable, quality child care supply to meet the demand, preferences, and scheduling needs of families. The longer it takes for school to resume in person, particularly at the elementary level, the greater the risk we face as a state of exacerbating racial, educational, and economic inequities.”

If families need child care assistance in a language other than English, call 1-833-604-0877.