Child Care

Oregon's Child Care Crisis

All parents, regardless of their employment status or income level, deserve quality, affordable choices for their children’s care.  And every child, whether they are Black, Brown, or White, deserves high-quality child care and an early learning environment that supports their needs. Universally available and high-quality child care are key to creating the future we want. They’re also essential to the economy of today: Without accessible child care, none of us would be able to go to work. The reality, unfortunately, is far from this:

  • Infant daycare in Oregon costs more than in-state college tuition.
  • Child care for 2 children — an infant and a 4-year-old — costs more than rent in all 7 metropolitan and rural areas in Oregon.
  • A minimum-wage worker in Oregon would need to work full time for 31 weeks, or from January to August, just to pay for child care for one infant.
  • Single parents in Oregon pay 5x more than what the U.S. government considers affordable.

Oregon is in a child care crisis, and that has serious consequences for parents, kids, and the childcare workforce.

A deeper look into the complex web of child care programs reveals that Oregon families need care that is:

  • Accessible: close to work or home, or available for parents who work evenings or weekends
  • Affordable: no more than 7% of a family’s income, and publicly funded when possible
  • High quality: it promotes a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development
  • Appropriate for their family: in their language, culturally competent, or provided by a family member
  • Values providers: pays good wages, provides benefits, offers trainings and other supports

At its core, child care is a gender, race, and economic justice issue that hurts women of color the most.

Care has always been seen as “women’s work.” Almost all child care providers are women, whether it’s moms or grandmas who care for children at home (and without pay), or those who are a part of the child care workforce. Because women are more likely than men to take on the caregiving role in most families, they often end up leaving the workforce — and even leaving for a short time means fewer opportunities for well-paying jobs, raises, or promotions, ultimately leading women to retire into poverty. Over time, the low-wage child care workforce has become disproportionately made up of women of color. Even though for centuries they have been the workers who support all other workers, the true value of child care work isn’t reflected in providers’ low pay and overwhelming workloads.

Thoughtful investment in Oregon’s child care system will:

  • Allow more Oregon moms to be economically secure, so they can support their families and stay out of poverty
  • Help Oregon’s child care workforce, who do the valuable work that makes all other work possible, maintain financial stability for themselves and their own families
  • Make sure all children receive care that’s affordable, quality, and appropriate for their family, strengthening their long-term educational, health, and economic outcomes


We are developing a long-term plan to address Oregon’s child care crisis. In 2019, Family Forward and the Child Care Coalition will work on policies to:

  • Work with stakeholders to develop a robust plan to build a comprehensive child care system (Child Care Task Force Bill)
  • Provide providers with the training, support, and resources they need (Child Care Provider Training, Recruitment & Retention)
  • Within Oregon’s child care assistance program, reduce parents’ out-of-pocket costs and help 1,000 additional families (Employment Related Day Care)
  • Provide free child care for 1000 families with babies & toddlers, which is the most expensive and hardest to find (Baby Promise Pilot Program)

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