2020 has been a year of challenges and extraordinary events—a global pandemic, devastating wildfires, a powerful movement for racial justice. The trauma of these events have weighed heavy on children and families, especially children and families of color, as they navigate compounding factors of social isolation, stress, and uncertainty.
As we look to 2021, Our Children Oregon is committed to the belief that all children deserve the resources necessary to thrive. To make this a reality, we must reimagine possibilities to ensure that children and youth have the strong foundation necessary: food security, housing, education, access to healthcare and insurance, and access to mental health care—the bricks and mortar of well-being.
We know this next year will be pivotal to our recovery as a state and we are committed to meet it with resiliency and hope—to rebuild an equitable Oregon, beginning with our children and youth, where we all can thrive.
Our Children Oregon, along with community partners across the state, have worked diligently on behalf of children and youth this past year, but our work is far from finished:
We testified on a wide range of issues to help keep families stable during the pandemic, including the establishment and the extension of the eviction moratorium, the establishment and funding of the Oregon Worker Relief Fund to support immigrant families left out of the federal CARES package, and the Oregon CARES Fund for Black relief and resiliency to provide targeted support to Black Oregonians
The need for robust broadband across the state received increased awareness as Oregon shifted to remote learning, resulting in the opportunity for some progress to be made on this issue. This is a need statewide, from Oregon’s rural counties to east Multnomah County, and there is more work to be done as we head into the 2021 Legislative Session.
The First Special Session of 2020 saw the passage of two bills which were advocated for in previous Children’s Agendas.
House Bill 4210: Ending Debt-Based License Suspension (2019 and 2020 Children’s Agenda) eliminated driver’s license suspension for the nonpayment of fines. Previously, this fee system undermined the stability of families by taking away their license, impacting their means of transportation and ability to meet personal and professional obligations, creating a vicious cycle of debt and instability.
House Bill 4214A: Oregon Indian Child Welfare Act/ICWA (2020 Children’s Agenda priority) codified the federal Indian Child Welfare Act to promote the safety of native children, preserve tribal families and communities, and recognize tribal sovereignty.
Our incredible Oregon Foster Youth Connection Members held a virtual policy conference that brought together youth voices from across the state—voices who will now work together to make legislative changes that benefit all children and families (in or at risk of being involved with child welfare).
Reports and Publications
2020 Oregon KIDS COUNT County Data Cards: Our annual county data on how children and youth are faring were reimagined as 2-page cards and an interactive dashboard. These data set a baseline for how kids were doing prior to COVID-19 and informing what must be done to ensure we emerge stronger.
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Oregon Households with Children: The effects of the pandemic on children and their families is highlighted in this handout and dashboard featuring data from the Household Pulse Survey. These state materials highlighted a national policy report release from Annie E. Casey Foundation.
2020 Children’s Agenda: Developed by over 120 statewide partners, this agenda serves as a comprehensive roadmap of policy solutions to meet the holistic needs of children and their families. The 7th annual 2021 Children’s Agenda will be released to coincide with the start of the legislative session in mid-January.
Our Children Oregon funded unrestricted grants to our network of Child Abuse Prevention Affiliates across the state. These organizations swiftly mobilized during the pandemic and following the wildfires to provide basic need supports to families with infants and children that lacked access to essential needs, such as diapers and formula
Our Children Oregon launched an Equity in Policy and Advocacy Internship (EPAI) Program for young people pursuing social and community benefit related fields of study at both the bachelor and graduate level. This internship is centered in promoting the values of equity, inclusion, and positive systems-change initiatives throughout the state of Oregon. This emerging program hosted six students this summer and fall from three different institutions: Amherst College, Columbia University, and Portland State University.
We celebrated a year under the banner of Our Children Oregon, committed to ensuring that every Oregon child has the opportunity to realize their fullest potential by elevating the needs and the voices of the most impacted. We partnered with The Metropolitan Group early in the year to co-create a brand that visualized our values and our new vision.
Thank you for your support this past year. With your help we’ve been able to achieve so much despite the hardship of 2020, and for that we could not be more grateful. If you are able to support our work, please consider clicking here to make a tax-deductible donation to Our Children Oregon or explore other ways to get involved.
Together, we can prioritize children and strengthen families in Oregon. #ForceForOurChildren