Preschool Kicked Out of Church Earlier This Year Struggles to Find New Home

The city’s largest preschool has to split up its kids into two different facilities—but one of those facilities may not be ready for use until after the school year starts.

The city’s largest preschool, threatened with eviction from a Southeast Portland church amid a shortage of early child care providers citywide, says it now has half a new home.

Executive director Crystal Gwyn wrote to parents July 16 that Childswork Learning Center would operate on two different campuses beginning in the fall. One of those locations has come through—the Harmony Montessori School building near Interstate 205—but the other one, Gwyn tells WW, is now uncertain.

Childswork was set to move into three classrooms at Portland Community College’s Southeast campus, but Gwyn says the property manager told her on July 24 that HVAC upgrades were needed first.

Gwyn says this uncertainty about having adequate space for students is “absolutely what preschool providers are facing all over the city.”

PCC spokesperson James Hill tells WW that “PCC is working on a contract with Childswork and does not expect to have the facility ready for them until [Sept. 27]. In the meantime, the HVAC systems across the college are currently being tested, balanced and certified in preparation for safe in-person operations for the new academic year.”

In May, WW wrote about Childswork’s struggle to find a space that was adequate for childcare, big enough for the student population, and also affordable, after getting kicked out of St. Stephens Catholic Church in the Sunnyside neighborhood. (Administrators of the school say they lost their space as a result of a parking dispute in 2019.)

The frustrations of Childswork are emblematic of a shrinking number of early childcare providers in Portland, even as Multnomah County voters approved a universal preschool ballot measure just last November—which seeks to have free preschool available to every child in the metro area within the next 10 years.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW’s journalism through our Give!Guide Fundraising page.