By Audrey Lynch, Franklin High School’s The Franklin Post
The Education Related Day Care (ERDC) program announced its commitment to expand its care to more homes and families across Oregon on January 1. In order to be eligible for this program’s benefits, which are specific to individual childcare needs, you must be an Oregon resident, currently employed or attending college or high school. Another requirement is having an income below the 200 percent federal poverty level, which as of January 2022 is $13,590 in yearly income and a qualifying child or children.
In 2021, the ERDC lowered copays to better serve low income families, with the current average copay being $14.50 per month. According to Oregon.gov, “[The ERDC] currently helps working families pay for child care, including registration fees.” It also states that “[the] ERDC works with partners to help families find quality child care.” This expansion makes it possible for non-working students and overnight workers to receive more care and coverage.
Before this expansion, all students seeking childcare under the ERDC had to have employment in addition to being a full or part time student. Now the ERDC will provide students with child care hours to fit their personal needs, as long as they meet the criteria.
This expansion also covers those who need childcare during personal medical leave, as well as caring for someone outside their household if needed. This expansion is crucial for guardians who need more flexibility in their child care. According to KATU News, “These changes mean students can receive either up to 20 or 40 hours [per week] of child care hours [depending] on their hours in school.”
The Oregon Department of Education’s Early Learning System Director Alyssa Chatterjee explained that, “for high school and GED students, not having to work may mean they are able to complete their high school diploma with fewer demands on their time. For college students, this may mean they can achieve their degree more quickly and with less expense.”
Chatterjee went on to explain that this change will provide a better sense of security for caretakers furthering their education by knowing that their children will receive the care they need. “Once in the program, they get peace of mind knowing their provider has been fully vetted, including a background check,” says Chatterjee.
All providers must be listed and approved by Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) in order for caretakers to receive the ERDC benefits. The only exception being if the provider is “license exempt,” which is provided through the Early Learning Division’s Office of Child Care (ELD and OCC).
ERDC’s goal is to provide child care to as many homes across Oregon as possible. In order to achieve this, these programs must recruit more providers, which is planned to be done in the next several months.
The ERDC, currently established under the ODHS, announced earlier this month that on July 1 the ERDC will move to the new Department of Early Learning and Care (DELC). In an interview with The Tillamook Headlight Herald, Chatterjee stated that “[she looks] forward to the program officially joining DELC alongside our other early learning and child care resources.”
For more information about how you can qualify for this service and benefits, visit the ODHS page, bit.ly/ChildCareAssistanceOR.
Photo by Oregon.gov