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Parents share their struggles finding child care, as NeighborImpact offers grants to help close the gap

For both financial support and educational programs

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The state of Oregon is investing more than $8 million to ease the child care crisis in Central Oregon. Crook and Deschutes counties are classified as "child care deserts," where fewer than 33% of kids have access to a slot.

NeighborImpact is expanding its child care programs with the addition of $8.2 million in state funding for its child care expansion program. Awards will range from $5,000 to more than $500,000.

NeighborImpact officials believe the grants should eventually bring relief to some parents. 

That will benefit people like Bend resident Jessica Coughlin, who recalled Thursday, "When I was looking, I would call places, and they would say, 'Call back in six months' to get on the wait list for another six months, which is really hard if you're trying to plan for work." 

With one child and another on the way, Coughlin knows well the struggle for many parents in Central Oregon. On Facebook, other parents shared their experiences with us.

One said, "I've been quoted anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 for my toddler. I don't even make that in a single paycheck. That's just for one child -- I have four." 

Another said, "I have a special needs child, so it's hard to find a child care equipped to handle her." 

Kaitlin Bachelor opened Ranch House Early Learning this week to serve families from Redmond, Powell Butte and Prineville. She opened the doors with assistance from NeighborImpact.

"It's very clear on how to get to where I'm at today," Bachelor said. "I opened my doors on Monday, and it's a pretty good feeling." 

"NeighborImpact --  that's how I got started was through them," said Bachelor said, who took the organization's Business Accelerator class. "I had no idea what NeighborImpact offered for families, business owners or potential business owners " 

 NeighborImpact Child Care Resources Associate Director for Grants Management Hannah Kuehl explained the course Bachelor took.

"The program encompasses a course of best business practices and continuous quality improvement, and then also direct business coaching," she said.

"The bulk of the funding is going to some recipients -- child care providers -- center-based providers and home-based providers and the different opportunities we're putting out," Kuehl said.

"The other bit of it is going to disseminate these programs that we've developed," she added. "So two of the opportunities -- one for child care centers and the other is for home based providers. a part of that opportunity is not only financial support but also educational."

The goal is to get more people interested in being providers and educate them on how to open much-needed  facilities in Central Oregon.

Bachelor said, "They basically lined out what I needed to do to be successful."

Kuehl said, "I do think this program will make a significant difference and open up many child care slots in Central Oregon." 

 Priority for funding is given to providers who offer-full time child care. 

Article Topic Follows: Bend

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Kelsey McGee

Kelsey McGee is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Kelsey here.


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