COCC small business center, NeighborImpact address child care shortage

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An innovative child care business training program at Central Oregon Community College’s Small Business Development Center is up and running with partnership from the nonprofit NeighborImpact and funding from the city of Bend and Deschutes County, all aimed at addressing a lack of child care in the region.

The first of the “Early Child Education Business Accelerator’s” three cohorts launched earlier this month.

“Our goal is to establish 30 new Oregon registered or certified home‐based child care businesses and create 250 new child care slots in Central Oregon,” said Ken Betschart, director of the SBDC. “Right now, our region is only able to accommodate one child care opening for every three children under five, and this accelerator training program is taking a huge step to meet that need.”

The city of Bend and Deschutes County have each committed $125K in grant support, officially announced last week, with additional support coming from the city of Sisters and the Oregon Small Business Development Network.

Each cohort, free to enrollees, is open to 15 family child care businesses.

The training takes place over three months and classes are taught in-person, with three sessions held at the COCC Bend campus and three held at the COCC Redmond campus.

“The curriculum supports growing a high-quality, licensed program, taught by NeighborImpact, with business topics covered by SBDC instructors,” said Karen Prow, director of child care resources at NeighborImpact.

Students are assigned an SBDC business adviser and licensed graduates receive a minimum of $5,000 to start their business, as well as continued wraparound services from both NeighborImpact and the SBDC after the program.

The training is intended for new child care businesses planning to open as well as recently established providers who require expanded business skills and state licensure.

Additional cohorts will begin in January and April of 2022; the program hopes to offer all classes in Spanish beginning with the January cohort. To apply to the program, contact Denise Hudson of NeighborImpact at deniseh@neighborimpact.org or 541-323-6518.

COCC has recently taken other steps to address child care needs in Central Oregon.

Last month, the college was awarded a four-year, $242,700 U.S. Department of Education grant that will provide funding to alleviate child care costs for low-income students.

The funds will also help launch the Bend-based Little Kits Early Learning & Child Care Center at Oregon State University-Cascades envisioned as a year-round program with an integrated teacher-training component for education students.

For more information on the SBDC-NeighborImpact Early Child Education Business Accelerator program, contact Ken Betschart, COCC Small Business Development Center director, at 541-383-7290, or Karen Prow, director of child care resources at NeighborImpact, at 541-323-6557.

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