Learn about the state of childcare in Wilsonville through online event
According to Bryan Fuentes, the business services manager for Clackamas Workforce Partnership, Wilsonville is considered a childcare desert because the demand far exceeds the supply.
With this in mind, Clackamas Workforce Partnership and Child Care Resource & Referral are hosting a Childcare Conversation event 4:30-6 p.m. Wednesday, July 29 to educate residents about the state of the childcare industry locally and mobilize concerned residents to find solutions.
The childcare imbalance is not unique to Wilsonville and is prevalent throughout Oregon, Fuentes said. The organization has already hosted similar talks in Sandy and Oregon City, and Wilsonville Economic Development Manager Jordan Vance asked them to do something similar in town.
Fuentes noted that Mentor Graphics' on-site childcare at its location in Wilsonville is an innovation but that there are about six Wilsonville children in need of childcare in comparison to one child who has access to it.
"A lot of people don't realize some of the issues with early care education, childcare and the fact that we're a childcare desert," Fuentes said.
He also noted a troubling development caused by the COVID-19 pandemic: While the need for childcare services has reduced because more parents are working from home, this has left childcare operations without as much ability to sustain due to the lack of business. Alarmingly, he said Milwaukie has gone from 50 childcare providers before the pandemic to six currently. Along with hampering businesses, Fuentes said this could soon create challenges for parents and children.
"As schools open up and as some businesses start to open again and some people go back to work, the need for childcare is still there," he said. "Even though it seems like in the short term the number of kids going to childcare has gone way down, that's not going to be the case forever."
The event will include information about the state of childcare in Wilsonville, what is being done to solve this issue and a call to action.
"At the end of each of these conversations we do an activity that starts to identify where we have challenges, opportunities and resources," Fuentes said. "We want people to step in and lend their hand or resources to solving some of the problems."
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