For many Portland families with children, finding affordable child care can be challenging. According to a study funded by Child Care Aware America, Oregon has the least affordable child care system than any other state in the nation. The average cost was greater than 18 percent of a married couple family’s median income and some families are paying more for childcare than they would be for a college education.
Due to changes in the economy many households now require both parents to work leaving child care in the hands of family members, friends, neighbors or day care centers. Often times two parent households will work opposite shifts in order for someone to always be home with the children. Parents may also combine childcare options such as using a Head Start program for childcare during the day and leaving children with a relative after school hours in order to save money.
Currently 60% funding for this early childcare is paid out of pocket by parents. Less than 1% of funding comes from philanthropy and businesses. The federal government provides about $8 billion dollars annually to fund Head Start and Early Head Start programs but the problem here is that they only serve about 4% of the children eligible. Many states have begun funding prekindergarten programs for ages 3-4 but there are states like Oregon are still falling behind keeping the cost of child care low for working families. Should sates provide more support for parents, should childcare options be provided by big businesses? What are your thoughts? If you have children, how do you manage to keep the cost of childcare low?
Along with this post I’ve attached a list of resources for parents with children to find free and affordable childcare here in the Portland Metro area. This list was provided by Portland State’s Resource Center for Parents with Children.