Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - September 21, 2018 


We’re covering stories from around the nation including a victory for safety for nuclear site workers; President Trump chastises Republicans for not securing border wall funding; and a predicted spike in population fuels concerns about the need for care.

Daily Newscasts

Oregon Tops National List for "Least Affordable" Child Care

PHOTO: The Child Care Aware survey found the average cost for center-based infant care in Oregon is $13,452 a year; and for a four-year-old, $10,200 a year. Photo credit: iStockphoto.com.
PHOTO: The Child Care Aware survey found the average cost for center-based infant care in Oregon is $13,452 a year; and for a four-year-old, $10,200 a year. Photo credit: iStockphoto.com.
November 6, 2013

PORTLAND, Ore. - A new national survey confirms what many parents in Oregon already know: The average cost at child-care centers is the least affordable in the nation, relative to family income.

According to the group Child Care Aware, the average price of infant care in Oregon tops $13,000 a year. It can eat up 18 percent of an Oregon couple's income and more than 60 percent of a single parent's income.

Economists don't really know why both child-care and housing costs are so high relative to what people make in Oregon, said Dr. Bobbie Weber, a research associate in the Family Policy Program at Oregon State University, adding that price is the reason more than half of the preschoolers are not in child-care centers.

"The families don't even consider using something that they know doesn't fit in their budget," she said. "So, it doesn't matter whether they consider it desirable for their child, or for them, as a family. If I know I can't afford it, why would I even look at it?"

Individual centers do what they can to serve lower-income families, Weber said, but their profit margin is only 1 percent or 2 percent. She said the survey reflects the fact that centers were hit hard by enrollment declines during the recession and had to raise prices to stay in business.

State funding for the Employment-Related Day Care (ERDC) program is critical for allowing lower-income parents to keep working, she said, although it is also critically under-funded, serving only one in five children who are eligible. Weber said she isn't sure why it hasn't been a legislative priority.

"I think that there's a fatigue factor when a problem is as big as this one," she said, "that decision-makers sometimes throw up their hands and say, 'I can't fix it. If we're serving less than 20 percent, where would we ever find the money to go to 100 percent?'"

Weber said she sees a bright side, however. As a member of the governor's Early Learning Council, she said they're hearing a lot from local communities about what they want and need for child care and preschool. She thinks Gov. John Kitzhaber's new definition of education, which includes learning from birth to adulthood, will influence the state's commitment to these issues.

The report is online at usa.childcareaware.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR