MONMOUTH, OREGON —Western Oregon University’s The Research Institute, led by Robyn Lopez Melton, has been awarded $8.4 million from the Oregon Early Learning Division to build capacity within Oregon’s early learning system. This funding will allow Western Oregon’s The Research Institute’s Center on Early Learning and Youth Development to design, implement, and manage Oregon’s first statewide child care substitute pool.
Finding affordable, qualified substitute educators is a common challenge within the early care and education field. In addition, the pandemic drastically increased the pressures on the childcare system. Once developed, childcare programs will have access to a pool of qualified substitutes that have been screened and trained. Program leaders will request substitutes and then will be matched with substitutes meeting their program’s needs. Each program will have the benefit of access to a set amount of hours at no cost to the program. The development of the pool will focus on increasing equitable resources for programs by targeting the recruitment of substitutes who speak languages other than English, serve rural counties, and/or are qualified to work with infants/toddlers.
“The substitute pool will have a particularly large impact for in-home providers, who work hard to keep their programs open. Oftentimes, closing for a sick day or a professional development opportunity would leave the families they serve without child care. Having the ability to access reliable substitutes serves as a benefit to the child care workforce, families of young children, and ultimately Oregon’s economy,” says Lindsey Cochran, The Research Institute’s Substitute Pool Coordinator. This program is designed to provide valuable and much-needed assistance to all Oregon child care providers.
Additionally, this grant will provide critical funding for start-up grants for the development of new or expanded Early Learning Programs in Oregon to increase access to child care that was lost during the pandemic. Funds will be available for individuals and businesses working to open new child care programs or expand current services. Approximately $4.5 million will be distributed to programs to expand access to quality child care options across Oregon.
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