Employment Related Day Care Paves the Way for Future Success


The Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) program provides a lifeline to families struggling to find and afford high quality child care. In July 2023, the ERDC program came under the administration of the new Department of Early Learning and Care (DELC.) Today, the program is working better than ever as a result of recent policy expansions that improved access to high quality child care for families previously excluded.

In Oregon, thousands of families depend on child care subsidized by ERDC. Across the country a focus on infrastructure and child care as a bi-partisan policy priority has been rapidly building traction not only to help families, but also to grow the economy:

“Families are so grateful for the extra help. Child care isn’t cheap,” said Susana Luque, family coach with the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS.) In assisting families, she’s heard countless examples of the difference child care makes to children and their families. She recalled a recent case:

“One mother in Marion county had no problem getting employment but came back on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) because she was having a hard time finding child care. She let go of two different jobs because she couldn’t find a child care provider that fit her schedule. I talked to her about her needs and helped create a plan. We found her a provider and a back up provider and she was able to go back to work. She was so happy and relieved.”

Recently, legislators had the foresight to make statutory changes to improve the ERDC program. However, last November, with an unprecedented number of families utilizing the program, ERDC launched a waitlist for most new families applying to the program. Given current caseloads, DELC does not anticipate being able to invite families off of the waitlist this year.

Susana reiterated the importance of programs like ERDC. “I’ve been a family coach for six years now. I enjoy connecting with families and walking alongside them and helping them find support so that parents can go back to work. She paused. “Their success is my success.”

DELC maintains a recently launched ERDC data dashboard. The county level data includes a map that illustrates the large number of families in need of ERDC child care assistance across the state. Learn more about ERDC eligibility changes here. Families are encouraged to reach out to 211 or their local early learning hub to apply for other child care and early learning programs through DELC, such as Preschool Promise or Oregon Prenatal to Kindergarten.

*At the time of this interview, Susana Luque was a family coach with ODHS. Since that time, she has accepted and started work in a new position with the Family Preservation Project.

About Author

Kate Gonsalves is the Director of Communications for Oregon Department of Early Learning and Care.

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