Pictured above left to right: Alexandra (8), Isabella (4), with mom – Megan Norris.
A consortium of regional businesses, early learning and health organizations, and the Bend Chamber focused on tackling Central Oregon’s shortage of childcare and has hired Megan Norris to begin work on creating more options for those looking for quality, affordable childcare options. Read the full press release about Megan’s hire here
Working with a regional oversight group, the Childcare Accelerator is housed with BendNEXT, the Bend Chamber of Commerce’s 501c3 workforce development nonprofit, until a new regional organization is formed. Funding for the position is still needed and can be donated to BendNEXT by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Q & A
Q – How excited are you for this position?
NORRIS – I am so very excited! I cannot wait to get started to help our community so that our children and families can have access to affordable, quality child care.
Q – What do you hope to accomplish?
NORRIS -Too many in our community are grappling with this child care desert our region is facing. With only 1 in 3 kids in our region being able to access child care openings, we have a real crisis. Coupled with a large group of area non-profits, we hope to solve the issues of access and affordability for families, providers and local businesses.
Q – What is your take on the childcare shortage in Central Oregon?
NORRIS – I believe it is a crisis and unacceptable when parents are being forced to cut back on hours or quit jobs completely because they can’t afford or access childcare. It’s affecting not only our families and early learning development for our kids, but also our workforce. This is an economic issue that needs to be addressed. Families want and deserve high quality care, but can’t afford the cost of close to college tuition prices and providers simply don’t have the resources to bring down their costs to offer the high quality care parents want for their children.
Q – What are some of the goals for the Childcare Accelerator both, small and long term?
NORRIS – Near term is to meet with our regional non-profits, partners and funders and really understand the issue locally and regionally, because it’s different from Bend to La Pine to Redmond. Long term, I will be working on a potential pilot program in conjunction with COCC and OSU Cascades to provide operational and programming support – this includes identifying locations and partners for childcare facilities.
Q – What are the first steps in tackling challenges in funding? Affordability? Development of more facilities?
NORRIS – We have already received generous support from non-profits, area employers and others to help fund this position. We will continue to enhance these efforts and get creative in tackling the issues of funding, affordability and development.
Q – How will your position as the Central Oregon Accelerator contribute to the community at large?
NORRIS – By investing in our kids and families we invest in our future.
We all have heard how early learning (0-5 years) is to childhood development and success to later on in life. If we can come together as a community to make this commitment to providing better access and affordability in a sustainable way, we all win!