Oregon is known for a lot of things – our beautiful wineries, the constant rain, the “free spirit” vibe, and our ability to bike anywhere we please! But one thing we’re not known for? Our affordable childcare rates.
That’s because well…they simply don’t exist. A report conducted by Child Aware of America rates Oregon as the most expensive state in the country for childcare in a two-parent family.
How do single-parent families fare? Not any better – On average, a single mother spends 61% of her annual income on childcare…well above what is deemed reasonable.
What is driving these costs? There are a variety of factors but local daycares attribute the costs to the demands of the parent(s). Now, more than ever, parents want to know what’s being taught to their children, who’s teaching them, what they’re eating, and what else a daycare can offer (above and beyond daycare itself). Parents want music programs, reading programs, and organic lunches for their children. They want providers who have their Masters degree in Education, or a related field. And daycare providers pass that cost on to the parents.
According to the report, childcare costs are higher in some states because of reasons more closely associated with state regulations. “Child care costs vary by state for a variety of reasons, including labor costs and the cost of living expenses such as housing, food, transportation, utilities, and health care (19)”.
The result? An average daycare in Oregon costs a family $1,100 per month…more than some colleges. And things aren’t much better for our northern neighbors as Washington state came in at #9.
So, what’s a family to do?
While some can afford these heavy fees, many unfortunately, cannot. The report offers the following suggestions for those that fall in the latter category:
- Some families get fee assistance from a local or state agency for a child care subsidy such as the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to help pay for the child care they want for their children. However, almost half of the states have waiting lists for this child care assistance.28 An estimated 17 percent of eligible families are able to access child care subsidies.
- Some families rely on relatives for help with child care. h Some families rely on friends or neighbors to provide unregulated informal care.
- Some families have one parent stay home.
- Some families work different shifts so someone is always home with the child/children.
- Some families put together several different child care options. Children might go to a pre-K program for part or all of the day. For the rest of the work day, they go to a child care center, family child care provider, relative or neighbor before or after school hours
Overall, it is a far from perfect system. Read page 35 of the report for details about how you can take action on making childcare more affordable in Oregon.