BY ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
The Bend Chamber has taken a step in addressing a growing crisis in Central Oregon by hiring a new childcare accelerator.
“The childcare accelerator is really a position that was conceived of by a group of people across the region about what is it that we need,” said Katy Brooks, CEO of the Bend Chamber. “Her job is to find the right partners that get the costs to work, to get high quality childcare programming, and share those operational costs across a lot of different platforms.”
The new childcare accelerator, Megan Norris, says the primary issue to tackle when it comes to affordable childcare, is economics.
“When you’re looking at prices that are almost equal to home rental rates you’re seeing parents being forced to cut back hours or they are quitting their jobs altogether to be those childcare providers at home for their kids,” Norris said.
Said Norris: “That’s why the Bend Chamber got involved in the first place is there are a lot of employers out there who are having a hard time keeping their workforce because there isn’t enough childcare to go around and somebody’s got to stay home.”
In addition to tackling access to affordable childcare across the region, Norris will also be a resource for local providers and existing facilities.
She’ll also be spearheading a collaborative pilot program between COCC and OSU-Cascades.
“We will basically be working with them to come up with some creative and innovative ways to provide more spots, possibly facilities really looking at potential for land and what that educational programming looks like for some of these early learning childcare centers,” Norris said.
It’s not an issue that will be solved overnight, but Brooks said Norris’ hiring is the another step.
“Collectively as a region how do we find the right properties, find the right quality programmings for that really important first three years and blend those two efforts together to bring that quality childcare to more Central Oregonians.”