By Zakkiyya Ibrahim, owner and director of Education Explorers, child care provider, and advocate; as told to Celeste Yager-Kandle.
In 2017 I opened Education Explorers, a high-quality, home-based early learning and out-of-school program in Washington County. Despite running a licensed business for three years from my rental home, having an excellent rental history, no history of injuries, and no damage to the property or other issues, I received an ultimatum from my landlord: close my business or be evicted. Neither of these were options. I have many families that rely on Education Explorers for child care so they can work. My experience is not uncommon among providers operating out of rentals.
Finding another rental is difficult and not every rental property meets licensing requirements. When they do, there’s never a guarantee that the landlord will rent to someone who is looking to run a licensed child care business in the home, as there is significant bias against renting to child care providers.
I was frustrated by policies being created by people with no knowledge of child development and age appropriate practices, or had experience caring for children. When I was invited to participate in the Early Childhood Coalition to share my story and advocate for child care providers, I jumped at the opportunity.
Working with Children’s Institute and the Early Childhood Coalition gave me a space to speak as an expert in family care and I was able to help shape priorities for the 2021 legislative session. This led to the proposal for House Bill 2484, a policy that focused on creating protections for renters to operate child care businesses from their homes.
The Early Childhood Coalition is doing essential work to ensure that early childhood policies in Oregon support providers and ultimately, young children and families.