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OR Childcare Workers Go to Bat for Their Employers

September 9, 2010

PORTLAND, Ore. - Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) subsidizes child-care costs for poor families so parents can keep working, but the state plans to trim the rolls by about 5,000 families in the next year, starting Oct. 1. Eligibility will be limited to those who already receive state aid, or have received it in the recent past.

Rebecca Whittaker, child care coordinator with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 503, says that means people who can least afford it will be paying more for day care - or opting not to work.

"The impact of this really means that both providers and parents are going to be losing jobs over the next year, and then having to turn around and perhaps apply for state assistance, which is going to cost the state even more money than keeping this program going."

Supporters of the cuts say they see the value of ERDC, but argue that the state has to make such cuts in tough times. Whittaker points out that parents on ERDC already pay the bulk of their child-care bills, since the state only kicks in $1.70 to $2.85 an hour, depending on a family's income.

Wanda Winne, a child care provider in Portland, says the parents she works with are barely making ends meet, even with the subsidy. She's sure she will lose clients if the cuts go into effect.

"Parents I know need the ERDC because they are trying desperately to better themselves. They don't want to be on it forever. And this helps them keep a job, and they don't have to worry about the safety of their children."

Cuts had been threatened for this summer, but the legislature delayed them and found money to keep the program going.

This week, SEIU members are asking state lawmakers to delay the cuts - at least until the next legislative session, when they can discuss how to maintain the program at its current funding.




Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR