Researchers say the state needs to invest in culturally appropriate care — and relax requirements for child care providers
According to a report released last month by the state’s Early Learning Division, rural families, especially immigrants, are more likely to leave their children with parents than to use traditional child care.
Researchers surveyed 81 families and found that an “extreme lack of available child care programs and slots, long waiting lists, and lack of options for families working weekends, evening and part-time work exacerbate racial and other inequalities in access to quality care.”
The study is the third in a series of studies on the state of childcare, following two more conducted in 2019 and 2020. This year’s study focused on the qualitative experiences of families in Oregon seeking care.
The researchers published an executive summary as well as three reports on specific populations: LGBTQIA+ families, families with infants and toddlers, and families with a child who has been suspended or expelled from child care.
In the summary of the report, the researchers said the state should:
- Make childcare services more affordable, especially care for infants and toddlers;
- Create easily accessible multilingual options to help families research childcare options;
- Invest in a diverse range of childcare options and hire a more diverse list of providers;
- Change the way child care providers are hired, paid and supported;
- Invest in training, coaching, education and quality improvement;
- Work to reduce bias and discrimination among providers.
Researchers found a severe lack of child care options in rural border areas of the states as well as significant challenges for Spanish-speaking parents seeking child care. Families who participated in the study said they quit their jobs, changed their schedules, or reduced their hours to keep their children in daycare. Many were simply unable to find it, relying instead on family caregivers.
“We found that people rely on care from family, friends, or neighbors, but that’s often a trade-off in quality,” said Beth Green, co-author of all three studies and director of research at Early Childhood and Family Support at Portland State University. Company. “You know your sister won’t discriminate against your child, or call him bad names or bully him, or let bullying happen to him – but you also know that your sister might be more likely to drop him in front of the TV for a few hours.”
She also says current child care provider certification requirements set up a “huge barrier” between people who can provide high-quality child care and the families who need their services. Licensed child care providers are not required to have a bachelor’s degree, although some state and federally funded preschool programs require an associate’s degree. The state should be less focused on the initial requirements and more focused on providing adequate support and ongoing training to people who want to enter the field or are already working in it.
Green also says the private sector will need to play a greater role in providing childcare solutions, and some large companies in Oregon have paved the way for others.
“There are many things that private companies could do to promote access to childcare for their employees. Nike has built its own early learning camp and has one of the best early learning centers in the state for its employees. A lot of companies can’t do it, but there are probably more that could and should,” says Green.
Green says small and medium-sized businesses could invest in on-site childcare to meet employee childcare needs.
In addition to adjusting state requirements and private sector action, Green says federal support will always be crucial to growing Oregon’s child care system and making child care more equitable and affordable.
“Biden had to remove all sorts of early childhood and family support pieces from his original Build Back Better Act, so in terms of federal dollars it will depend on whether the Democrats retain power, because I impression that if they do, they will continue these safety net programs.
That of division study 2020 focused on the impact of COVID-19 on providers and families. Researchers surveyed 2,105 parents and found that a majority – 59% – of families with children in childcare had experienced major disruptions in care, and that black parents were significantly more likely than other groups of experience disruption, with 73.8% of black or African American parents. saying they had lost the care.
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