As Ellison processed her final case of the day, she was reminded how meaningful child care assistance is to Oregonians
Lyndley Ellison is an eligibility worker with the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS). On her last appointment of the day, Ellison called Symmone*, a mother applying for the Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) program.
Symmone had recently started a new job, which meant she could no longer receive cash benefits but still qualified for other supports.
As the call continued, Ellison could sense Symmone’s anxiety. Symmone heard stories of families having ERDC copays that were high and wasn’t sure if it was even worth applying if she couldn’t afford the copay. When Ellison told Symmone the ERDC program has changed to better support the needs of families, Symmone decided to complete the interview to see what she may qualify for. After completing the interview, Ellison ran Symmone’s information through the ONE system to see what benefits she would qualify for. She was stunned by the result of her application.
Eligible families can now receive cash assistance and child care assistance at the same time. Families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) can talk to an ODHS staff person and request assistance to pay for child care costs. Families already receiving child care assistance may also qualify for cash assistance if they have a job loss, are on unpaid leave from work, or meet income requirements. Other ERDC changes mean that students—in high school, a GED program, or college—no longer need to work to qualify for child care assistance. This expansion also allows families to apply for ERDC while on medical leave from work, and to access their ERDC benefits while on medical leave for their own condition or their child’s.
Changes to the ERDC program are part of House Bill 3073, which includes the launch of a new state agency called the Department of Early Learning and Care (DELC). DELC launched on July 1, 2023, bringing together all child care and early learning programs in Oregon under one state agency, including ERDC. This will not change the way families get ERDC or TANF benefits. Families will continue to apply for and receive benefits from ODHS.
“We are already seeing the positive impact of these changes to the Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) and families and child care providers alike,” said Alyssa Chatterjee, Director of DELC. “Supporting the needs of families is critical for children to have a strong foundation to set them up for future success.”
Thanks to recent changes to the ERDC program, Symmone was eligible for full-time child care with a $0 copay. Because she reported her new job to ODHS right away, Symmone also qualified for post-cash assistance benefits to assist her transition to a new job.
“I’m forever grateful for my daughter to go to these enriching places, to be safe and cared for,” she said.
Providing children with safe, high-quality child care sets them up for future success and helps parents take the next big step in their careers.
“I’m recovering from addiction and that just amplifies my gratitude,” Symmone said. “Not having to stress about child care has made such a huge difference in our lives and in my recovery.”
Ellison said this experience reminded her why she became an eligibility worker and how programs like ERDC can change the lives of families across Oregon.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about ERDC, please check out ERDC webpage for information on eligibility changes and how to apply for the program. Please go to your local ODHS office or call 1-800-699-9075 if you have questions about any of these changes. For more information on ERDC changes going into effect July 1, see the flyers below:
About the Oregon Department of Human Services
The mission of the Oregon Department of Human Services is to help Oregonians in their own communities achieve well-being and independence through opportunities that protect, empower, respect choice, and preserve dignity.
About the Department of Early Learning and Care
The Department of Early Learning and Care launched on July 1, 2023, overseeing child care licensing, early learning programming, and the Employment Related Day Care program.
After November 3, 2023, the Employment Related Day Care Program will close enrollment and introduce a waitlist because of increased demand and limited funding. Learn more on the ERDC page. Note that information on the ERDC waitlist was not available when this story was originally published on September 5, 2023.