Oregon's Child Care Crisis
Every Oregon family deserves access to high quality, affordable, and culturally relevant child care, and every child care provider should be paid a wage that reflects the essential work they do. And it shouldn’t fall on parents or providers to foot the bill for an adequate system.
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
In 2021, Family Forward and the Child Care for Oregon coalition will work on policies that will rebuild Oregon’s child care supply in wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
The need for sustained public investment has never been clearer. It will take a long-term, sustained effort to build a new publicly funded statewide child care system that is universal, equitable, and truly works for all our families. In the meantime, we can start by passing HB HB 2503 + SB 239 to:
Protect our current investments in the ERDC program.
Streamline governance by housing ERDC with other early learning and child care programs.
Ensure affordability for parents by capping copays to no more than 7% of a family’s income.
Increase the flexibility of the program for parents to utilize their child care assistance outside of just working hours.
Expand access to all children, regardless of documentation status.
Protect eligibility for children for at least one year, increasing financial stability for providers and continuity of care for children.
Provide financial stability to providers by paying based on enrollment—not attendance, protecting eligibility for children for at least one year, setting rates for providers based on the true cost of care.