Oregon parents pay the most for child care

Nearly half of licensed child care providers in Oregon shut down after Gov. Kate Brown gave them a tough choice: either abide by strict new “emergency care” rules, or close their doors.

A study by the national nonprofit Child Care Aware ranks Oregon’s child care centers as the most expensive in the country, but day care providers in Hermiston and Pendleton say it’s a different story in Eastern Oregon.

The report by Child Care Aware shows that the average cost of center-based day care for infants is $13,452 a year. That’s 18.6 percent of the median income for a married couple in Oregon and 61.6 percent of the median income for a single mother. It’s also more than tuition for a full-time, year-round student at Oregon’s public universities.

Lisa Kopetski, who runs Magic Years Day Care in Pendleton, said no one she knows of in Eastern Oregon charges nearly that much for childcare.

“That would be extremely high,” she said. “That would be high for two children.”

She charges $436 a month for children over two and $569 a month for children under two, which works out to $6,828 a year for an infant. Other childcare providers in the Hermiston-Pendleton area who list their prices online run in a similar price range.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that Oregon ranks second in the nation for disparity between child care costs in urban and rural settings. The Child Care Aware study reports families in Oregon’s metro areas pay 107 percent more for child care than families in cities with less than 50,000 residents.

Kopetski speculated one reason Oregon’s childcare prices might be higher than other states’ is that the state has particularly high health and safety standards for day care providers. Those laws lead to higher quality care, she said, but could also make the cost of running a day care more expensive.

Mary Shaver of Busy Bees Child Care and Preschool in Hermiston agreed that certain regulations can increase the cost of running a day care.

“If you’re certified, it costs more. You can’t use cloth towels in the bathroom, you have to use paper towels — it’s things like that,” Shaver said.

Just like families feel the pinch when prices rise, Shaver said the effect of rising prices on food, toys and household goods is magnified when she is taking care of 16 young children.

“I pay out a lot for supplies. Like toilet paper. My gosh, we go through so much toilet paper,” she said.

The full report on the cost of child care in America can be found online at http://www.usa.childcareaware.org/costofcare.


Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.

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