Portland Public Schools May Provide $1,000-a-Month Child Care While Schools Are Otherwise Closed

Child care providers may work at Portland Public Schools this fall while teachers work from home.

A child walks to Whitman Elementary School in Portland in 2019. (Portland Bureau of Transportation / Flickr)

The free public education that customarily serves a significant secondary function of providing child care for working parents will not be available in Portland through at least Nov. 5. That's because of Gov. Kate Brown's decision last week that effectively delayed the in-person reopening of schools.

But while Portland Public Schools runs online classes for at least the first quarter of the school year, it is also considering offering care for children up to age 12 for $1,000 a month.

A survey sent to parents Aug. 3 suggests the child care would be made available through groups that traditionally take care of students before and after school—"providers like the YMCA and Champions," the survey says.

That prospect of child care in public school buildings draws into sharp relief the simple fact that not all children will be able to stay home this fall.

It also highlights the possibility that those child care workers may be serving Portland children face to face while better-paid teachers who also serve those children will be working from home.

Child care facilities across the state have been allowed to stay open, prioritizing children of frontline workers for care and instituting methods to keep smaller cohorts of kids together.

PPS does not necessarily expect to have room for children of all interested parents and will offer subsidies for those who cannot pay the estimated $1,000-a-month price tag.

"Parents/guardians who work or go to school are eligible for financial aid, which may cover the full cost of child care," the survey states.

PPS spokeswoman Karen Werstein said in a statement the district is still in the information-gathering stage.

"PPS is working as a good community partner to facilitate a community-based discussion between the licensed child care providers and those who need child care and assessing what the actual need is," Werstein said. "We are evaluating the likelihood of need and have not made any final plans yet."

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