Central Oregon Community College held a job fair Friday for Early Childhood Education opportunities.
As the need for childcare grows in the region, creating opportunities for interested students to get into the industry is a huge focus for the college.
“Regionally, we are having somewhat of a workforce crisis in early learning,” said Amy Howell, a professor of Early Childhood Education at COCC.
A 2019 OSU report showed Deschutes and Crook counties were considered a “child care desert” for children 5 and under – meaning there were more than three children for every child care slot.
With the current lack of childhood education workers in the region, Central Oregon Community College is hoping to get its students to work.
“One of the problems is just starting to look,” said Lydia Lee Studds, an early childhood education student at COCC, “Knowing where to look, knowing what to ask.”
At its Early Learning Educators Job Fair, the community college welcomed several local childcare businesses to connect students with career opportunities and professional advice.
The Oregon State University Little Beavs, The Children’s Learning Center of Madras, The Boys and Girls Club of Bend, and many more were on hand eagerly looking for applicants.
“I think a lot of these are just things I really wouldn’t know and a lot of them have higher positions that I would be able to come back to later on in my educational career,” said COCC early childhood education student Sidnie Adams.
Adams said she’s eyeing a lifeguard position to continue her work with kids, something she’s wanted to do her whole life.
“And seeing how pay has increased in different positions like this is nice to see so I’m hoping to get more experience like this working with the early learners,” Adams said.
While students connect with potential employers, more families are searching for childcare.
KIDS INC, the popular before and after-school childcare provider from Bend Park and Recreation, has a waitlist of over 70 kids and hopes hiring 10 to 12 employees will give more opportunities to families.
“This is a huge effort to support children, families, and the whole system that support children and families. So being a part of it, in any capacity, I think is monumental and makes a big difference,” Howell said.
To find out more about the Early Childhood Education program at COCC and upcoming events, visit their website here.