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Why We Must Save Child Care

Even before the pandemic, every county in Oregon was considered a "child care desert" for infants and toddlers. That means in all 36 counties, only one spot was available for every three children who need care. That math is impossible for working families.

The pandemic has made things worse, bringing many child care centers to their financial breaking point and threatening permanent closure.

I've been talking with child care providers, parents, and advocates throughout this pandemic to hear directly from them about the challenges they're facing and what they need to survive. Based on these conversations, I wrote an in-depth report that includes their compelling stories and outlines a plan for how we can save child care and make the system stronger, more equitable, and more effective. I spoke with KGW about this report and why we urgently need to invest at least $50 billion in child care.

We must address three structural problems; unmet need, high cost for families, and low pay for the important child care workers. By stabilizing the child care sector, we can support families in search of affordable child care and providers, who deserve to earn a living wage.

As a mom and a policymaker, I know how important access to quality affordable child care is for our children, families, and economy. When it's time for parents to go back to work, they must have affordable child care. Without child care, there will be no economic recovery.

This is also an equity issue. Most of the dedicated and skilled early child care educators – who nurture the development of the next generation and make it possible for parents to be in the workforce – are women; many are Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

Finally, when families can't find child care, it's often a mom's career that gets put on hold – a decision that should be made by choice, not forced by a lack of options. It's time to rethink how we support parents, especially women, and show that they and their children are valued in our society. Investing in quality, affordable child care is an important step we can and must take now.

Posted on July 2, 2020.

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Meet Suzanne

Suzanne knows what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet. She worked her way through community college, university, and law school. She started her career at Legal Aid and worked as a consumer rights attorney. Throughout her career she’s been a leading advocate for public education, protecting the environment, and civil rights. She’s fighting for a better future for all Oregonians.

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