How Oregon Supports Child Care for Construction Workers?

The construction business in Oregon is thriving, creating a need for qualified labor. Many of these workers, however, are also parents who struggle to secure reliable and cheap child care so that they may focus on their jobs. To their credit, Oregon has created a program to aid construction employees in paying for child care.

The construction industry in Oregon benefits from this initiative since it encourages parents to remain in the workforce. This article will examine the program and its effects on local families and the general populace.

Oregon’s Child Care Support for Construction Workers

The Biden administration has pushed for greater infrastructure construction, including roads, bridges, broadband, and semiconductor chip production. Meanwhile, state and local governments are scrambling to recruit enough labor. Yet, these initiatives are being hampered by the scarcity and high cost of child care. Oregon’s approach to the issue may serve as a template for other states and municipalities.

Marina Zhavoronkova, a senior fellow for workforce development at the Liberal Center for American Progress, has called the issue of child care a crucial one. She argued that legislation like the CHIPS and Science Act would require a workforce to implement its provisions.

In a March study, Zhavoronkova cited early figures showing that the construction industry had 413,000 openings in December. There were another 764,000 unfilled jobs in manufacturing. In addition, 22% of the construction and 26% of the manufacturing workforce are either retired or will soon be.

Since women only comprise 4.2% of the workforce, addressing the nation’s childcare shortage is crucial. This sector includes carpentry, bricklaying, operating engineering, and paving jobs. In the next ten years, the act will generate 800,000.

β€œA critical part of growing the workforce is that you need to recruit more members,” Zhavoronkova said. β€œAnd that includes recruiting more women who are more likely to be the primary caregivers for children in the home.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce research shows that 27% of the unemployed are not actively seeking employment because they care for family members. Both male and female parents struggle with finding adequate child care. A greater proportion of women (36%) reported this as an issue.

How Oregon Supports Child Care for Construction Workers

β€œIt’s just like any job,” said Cye Fink, workforce management director for the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Office of Civil Rights. β€œIf you have to pick up your child or they’re under school age or kindergarten, then you can’t watch or provide for that child [while building new roads and bridges].”

Fink emphasized that this is especially true because their employment requires them to spend weeks away from their home and children. However, an Oregon initiative launched in 2010 seeks to remedy this.

The Oregon State Legislature mandated a highway construction apprenticeship program in 2016 with funding of up to $2.1 million per biennium, or.5 percent of federal monies.

A modest budget from the department covered childcare costs. According to Fink, the department would spend $340,027 on childcare services for 75 apprentices between July 2019 and December 2022 so that they do not have to pay more than 7% of their income on childcare.

The funds need not be used for childcare purposes. It can be offered to relatives prepared to care for a youngster in their home. The state’s program also offers help for anyone experiencing financial difficulties, such as paying for necessary car repairs or medical bills.

The financial aid has been helpful. According to Fink, in the past two years, apprentices who got assistance were 10% to 20% more likely to complete their apprenticeships, depending on their trade. Female apprentices in the highway construction industry feel the effects much more strongly.

Subsidized apprentices were more likely to finish their programs (45% vs. 28%), especially among white women (because they did not apply for them). Half of the minority women who received the funding also finished their internships, but only 22% of those did not.

According to Fink, Oregon will use $3 million of its infrastructure money to increase the number of apprentices eligible for subsidies and the duration of those incentives.

Zhavoronkova claims that more state transportation departments haven’t joined in because their primary concentration is on infrastructure like roads and bridges.

β€œIt’s a different muscle to flex for many states,” she said. β€œState departments of transportationβ€”they’re not workforce agencies. They’re not childcare agencies. So it’s a big ask. It’s learning a different skill set. It’s partnering with different partners.”

Several government officials have also voiced concern that diverting funds from transportation to child care would waste taxpayer money. Yet, because of the Biden administration’s focus on the issue, Zhavoronkova is “cautiously optimistic” that more states will prioritize providing child care for infrastructure workers.

The most up-to-date information from Oregon State, containing everything that shouldn’t be overlooked:

In February, the Commerce Department established criteria for applying for CHIPS and Science Act funding, signaling the administration’s recognition of the issue’s relevance. The government has stated that applicants seeking more than $150,000,000 must ensure their employees have access to low-cost child care.

β€œThis is a math problem,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said then. β€œWe need more people in the labor force. We lack affordable child care, the single most significant factor keeping people, especially women, out of the labor force.”

In addition, Zhavoronkova mentioned that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration under the Department of Commerce is demanding a workforce development plan from states that want to receive broadband funds under the bipartisan infrastructure act.

β€œI think that if there was any moment in time where the infrastructure workforce would meaningfully diversify is right now,” she said.

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Louis Ebert

Louis Ebert is a talented content writer with a passion for creating compelling stories and informative articles. With years of experience in writing, Louis has honed their skills in crafting engaging content that resonates with readers.As a content writer for, Louis explores the many facets of life in Hillsboro and the surrounding areas. From delving into the latest trends in local business to highlighting community events and leaders, their writing offers a unique perspective that captures the essence of the area.

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