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Working Parents Rally for Help with Child Care Costs

February 9, 2011

SALEM, Ore. - Lower-income parents in Oregon are looking to state lawmakers to help them afford child care so they can keep their jobs. Advocates for these families will gather on Wednesday at noon at the State Capitol. The "Rally to Save Employment Related Daycare" (ERDC) will focus on Gov. Kitzhaber's recent proposal to increase the number of families in the program from 10,000 to 11,000.

Regan Gray, policy director with Children First for Oregon, says her group is concerned that the Oregon Legislature will try to trim ERDC, putting affordable child care out of reach for some.

"This is a wise investment that the Legislature can make. At a time when Oregon is struggling to keep people in the workforce, the last thing we want to do is make it harder for parents to continue working and cause increased job losses."

Gray says for minimum-wage workers, child care costs can total more than what a parent can bring home.

Debs Dunn is the director of Rockwood KinderCare, a daycare center in Portland where about 60 percent of the parents rely on ERDC for part of their child care expenses. Some have told her they're not sure they will be able to keep working if the assistance disappears.

"Parents are extremely nervous about losing ERDC. They actually have a co-payment – they pay a portion and the state pays a portion – so that they can afford the same good quality care that families who are making a very good income can afford."

ERDC funding is dependent on parents working; they lose the assistance if they lose their jobs. Gov. Kitzhaber wants to make the program part of a package of early childhood services.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR