Bills Grant Child Care Officials New Powers

On Wednesday, May 22, the Oregon Senate passed one of two separate bills in the legislature designed to give officials new enforcement powers to regulate Oregon’s deeply troubled domestic child care system. 

While a parallel investigation into the quality of care for Oregon foster kids sent out of state continues, Oregon’s in-state child care system has its own history of issues, including allegations of sexual abuse. 

House Bill 2027 (HB 2027) was passed 58-0 by the House in April and 28-0 in the Senate this Wednesday. It grants the Oregon Office of Child Care officials, who oversee thousands of care centers and licensed care homes, more legal enforcement powers, like the authority to issues subpoenas for witnesses or evidence and to inspect child care facilities. It also bans providers with pending suspensions from providing child care for five years, and allows evidence collected during investigations to be used in determining whether someone is fit to provide child care. 

“When parents drop their children off at a child care facility regulated by the state, they should be confident their children will be safe and nurtured,” said Sen. Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis), “This bill will give the Office of Child Care the tools to gather information, inspect facilities and hold providers accountable for meeting the highest standards for safety and quality care for children.” 

Another bill still in progress, Senate Bill 490, prevents anyone who has been ordered to register as a sex offender but who has not yet done so, and anyone convicted of a crime which involved serious harm to or the death of a child, from becoming a care provider. 

This bill was specifically requested by Governor Kate Brown, and is expected to receive her signature soon. 

By Ian MacRonald