In the past year, hundreds of new child care spots have opened in the tri-county area, all thanks to a grant program through NeighborImpact. This is significant because Central Oregon is in a child care desert meaning there aren’t enough available childcare slots for children living here.
We first reported on this grant program about a year ago. We then learned the goal was to open up 1,400 new child care slots with the $8.2 million grant. About a year in, NeighborImpact has helped open nearly 800 of the 1,400 goal.
“We’re in a much better spot,” said Hannah Kuehl, the associate director grants management at NeighborImpact, referring to the area’s child care shortage.
Kuehl says in roughly the past year, the grant program has generated 777 new childcare slots in the tri-county area.
Kaylee Brock is one of the many taking advantage of the grant money. Through the NeighborImpact program, she expanded her in-home daycare into a child care center in Redmond, Growing Giraffes Preschool.
“Right now I have about 35 kids enrolled,” Brock explained.
She officially opened up the center in October after completing a six-month educational program, a part of the grant program. Through that program, child care providers must work closely on business development, thoroughly thinking through finances, staffing and marketing. Brock’s presentation following the education program earned a $300,000 grant to expand her in-home daycare into the child care center it is now.
The goal, with all the educational work, is to make a business model that is sustainable once the grant money runs out.
NeighborImpact’s next big focus is connecting people to child care openings, like the ones Brock will soon have when she opens up a before and after school program.
To help, NeighborImpact launched a new tool on its website. There is now a map where people can search for open child care slots near them. You can find it here.