The Oregon Early Learning Division has released its first of three reports on the state of publicly funded child care. The reports are mandated by passage of HB 2346 last March. The State of Early Care & Education and Child Care Assistance in Oregon offers a comprehensive review of state programs and how they currently work to serve children and families.
In painstaking statistical detail, the report reinforces what many families are living every day—the availability of high-quality, regulated child care slots in Oregon has dropped to crisis levels while the costs continue to increase. The lack of available, high-quality care is especially hard on low-income families, those living in rural or non-metro areas and those headed by single parent households. Children of color are disproportionately represented among households earning incomes below the federal poverty line ($42,660 per year for a family of three).
Some highlights of the report:
- Nearly two-thirds of children under 5 have either both parents or a single parent employed.
- 72 percent of the $1.3 billion spent on early care and education is directly financed by parents.
- For children birth to 2, the entire state is a child care desert—defined as a place where there are more than three children for every available child care slot. Things improve only slightly as children age. For all children under 5, 27 of 39 counties in Oregon are considered a child care desert.
- Only 15 percent of children eligible for subsidized child care are currently being served through state and federal subsidy programs. The median price of full-time child care for an infant is $14,532, substantially more than the cost of public college tuition in Oregon.
- More than 24,000 people worked as early care and education providers in 2018, with the vast majority employed by center-based and large home care settings (77 percent). The median wage earned for center based care workers was $12–17.05 per hour. Home based providers typically earn less.
The ELD and Oregon State University’s Child Care Research Partnership are working on a demographic and geographic analysis of supply and demand, and an additional report on barriers to accessing child care subsidies. Both reports are due by June 2020 to the Legislative Task force on Access to Quality Affordable Child Care, a group tasked to review and make recommendations for changes.