Waiting lists, with hundreds of kids. Child care centers, having to close. Those are some of the challenges people described at a meeting about our area’s child care crisis due to COVID-19. Parents and child care providers are calling for help: as the pandemic forces them to make impossible choices.
Vancouver mother of two Heather Lindberg described the strain of trying to stay on the job when one of her daughters caught COVID-19.
“She was out for four days.”
She says it’s an issue she shares with many others:
“As a child care provider at a local school campus, I can speak to the great need we have in our community. We have parents who are plumbers and postal workers and firefighters with varied schedules.”
In Tualatin, Wendy Niculescu formed a group called “Moms Rising.” She also describes parents’ struggles.
“I was out of the workforce due to COVID for a year and a half. But an essential need to get women like myself back to work is child care, which was scarce even before the pandemic. In fact, 60% of Oregonians reside in areas deemed child care deserts.”
Parents called for lawmakers to come up with solutions that help parents stay working and providing for their families.
Jody Wall is Executive Director at Early Care and Education, serving the Vancouver and S.W. Washington area. “We are the largest early care and education provider in our region serving children prenatally to age 12 through child care, preschool, home visiting and play group services. “
But COVID-19 brought severe threats to her business, and its ability to help working families: “We quickly went from operating 40 centers, serving 2,000 children, to 7 centers serving 150 children.”
She and other child care providers and parents spoke at a child care discussion organized by Washington U.S. Senator Patty Murray and Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, saying they urgently need help. “With these center closures we were forced to lay off over 200 employees,” said Wall.