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NeighborImpact, Deschutes County, city of Bend provide ‘bridge’ grants to child care providers

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BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Child care providers across the region are struggling to make ends meet during the coronavirus crisis. Although many child care facilities are approved by the State to stay open, enrollment has plummeted since Gov. Kate Brown's March 23 statewide stay home order.

Keeping child care facilities operational is crucial, in order to enable both essential workers to continue working and to ensure that child care facilities can afford to continue serving the community even after the crisis has passed.

With a cap on the number of children a facility can host in any given day, enrollment numbers, and thus revenue, are a small fraction of what they were before the outbreak.

"Programs are experiencing an extreme loss of income and are still being expected to provide care," said Karen Prow, NeighborImpact Child Care Resources Director. "Things are really tough and I didn't know how [child care providers] were going to weather this."

After recognizing the need, Prow, together with City of Bend Economic Development Director, Carolyn Eagan, approached the City of Bend and Deschutes County with a proposed solution.

"The county commissioners understand the essential role in the economy that child care plays and so they were willing to come in with $50,000, and sort of challenged the City of Bend to match them," said Eagan.

The City of Bend and Deschutes County each contributed $50,000 to a relief program which will offer small "bridge" grants to local child care providers. NeighborImpact will administer the grants, which will provide up to $6,000 to local emergency child care facilities in order to help them stay open until state funding is released.

NeighborImpact will work to identify providers that qualify for the funds based on the programs' financial need, Spark quality rating and the facilities' ability to continue to serve the community for years to come.

"This is just another step in this decades-long relationship between NeighborImpact, the City of Bend, Deschutes County and other partners to make sure all members of our community thrive," said Eagan. "There really is no getting our workforce re-employed without child care; and child care needs to come first."

NeighborImpact also recognizes the importance of child care to the local economy.

"A vibrant child care sector with adequate capacity is absolutely essential to re-opening the economy of Central Oregon," said NeighborImpact Executive Director Scott Cooper. "Without child care, workers cannot return to employment and will be trying to fight a recession with one hand tied behind their backs. The leadership shown by Deschutes County and the City of Bend in recognizing how child care is part of the reopening puzzle is remarkable and appreciated." 

As an essential business providing essential services to disadvantaged individuals in Central Oregon, NeighborImpact will continue to serve all three counties and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Those needing assistance may access services via telephone and online or in person in Bend, Redmond and Madras. 

For updates on NeighborImpact's response to COVID-19, visit:     

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