BEND, OR -- A new national survey shows the average cost of childcare in Oregon is the least affordable in the nation, relative to family income. The group "Child Care Aware" says the average price of infant care tops $13,000 a year. It can eat up 18% of an Oregon couple's income and more than 60% of a single parent's income.
Dr. Bobbie Weber in the Family Policy Program at Oregon State University said economists don't really know why both childcare and housing costs are so high relative to what people make in Oregon. But price, she added, is the reason more than half of the preschoolers are not in childcare centers.
"The families don’t even consider using something that they know doesn’t fit in their budget. 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?"
Dr. Weber said individual centers do what they can to serve lower-income families, but their profit margin is only one or two percent. She says 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.