The national labor shortage has hit child care centers hard, leaving parents scrambling to find spots for their children.
Beaverton leaders are taking a unique approach to address the area’s needs: providing matching grants to child care facilities so they could increase capacity.
Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beaty said the idea is modeled after the city’s other business grant programs.
“I and the city believe that child care is infrastructure,” Beaty said. “We really see this as economic development in our community.”
Beaty said less than a third of children younger than 5 are able to find space within a child care facility in Beaverton. While some families can find assistance in paying for child care, many still can’t find a facility with open spots.
The program also offers technical assistance to providers, like real estate location services or pre-leasing design services — tasks that could overwhelm people trying to start a new business.
“When you open a child care facility, you need to make sure that it’s safe inside the building; you need to know how to apply for the business license; you need to know how to talk to a landlord to negotiate the lease,” Beaty said.
About $120,000 of general fund dollars are paying for the initial run of the program, according to Beaty, with hopes that the city could secure additional funding in the future.
The city is hosting informational sessions from March 21-23, including a Spanish language session. The city started accepting applications on March 8. City staff will review applications during the first week of April. Funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis.