KATU: Here’s the Real Story About Childcare in Oregon

Over on Facebook, new KATU anchor Rob Youngblood is asking for help for a story he’s working on about childcare:

Finding a Nanny... If You're a Single Parent

“I’m putting together a story on the difficulties of finding a great nanny when you’re a single parent.”

Whoa. I literally gasped when I read that. It’s sort of like saying, “I’m putting together a story on the difficulties of choosing the right Mercedes when you’re homeless.” The truth is, single moms and their families are barely making it and the recent recession has only increased their challenges.

In Oregon, most parents are struggling to afford even basic childcare—let alone single parents with only one income. Oregon has the least affordable childcare in the country.

Here are some facts that we hope Mr. Youngblood uses in his story about child care in Oregon:

• The median income for single mothers is $21,828.

• The average annual cost for infant care in a day care center is $13,452—61% of the median income for single moms.

Costs of Infant Care

• The average annual cost for a 4-year-old in a day care center is $10,200—47% of the median income for single moms.

• According to the latest Census figures, 43.7% of households led by single mothers are below the poverty line. For a mom with two kids, that’s less than $20,000 a year.

• Since the beginning of the recession, Oregon has cut assistance for struggling families and single parents. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families has been cut, and the Employment Related Day Care program has also been slashed. ERDC provides day care subsidies so that parents can actually afford to work. Without ERDC, many single parents simply can’t afford to put their kids in day care while they work.

• While the ERDC has seen minimal amounts of money restored to the budget by the legislature, thousands of working parents are still on the waiting list.

• According to the International Nanny Association, the median hourly rate for nannies is $16. Assuming 40 hours a week, that’s an annual salary of $33,280.

For the majority of single moms, the question isn’t “where can I find a great nanny?!” It’s “will I make enough at this job to pay for the childcare I need in order to take the job in the first place?”

Women make 79 cents for every dollar paid to men in the same job. Childcare now costs as much or more as college, and budget cuts that slashed public assistance benefits mean even less of an opportunity for women to work and ensure that their children are in safe childcare. It’s as though we set out specifically to design an economic system that punishes women for being single, working mothers.

If you have a chance, drop Mr. Youngblood a note and encourage a different story, “What can our community do to make childcare affordable so more working families can get by?”

6 Responses to “KATU: Here’s the Real Story About Childcare in Oregon”

  1. Anonymous

    Julie, just an FYI, once a kid turns 5…childcare for a working parent doesn’t end. Oregon doesn’t have full day kindergarten until next year. Half day daycare for kinders is 4 hours, but as kindergarten is only 3 hours long, parents end up either trying to win the lottery for full day kinder (and then have to pay $4000 to the public school for the privilege) or they have to still pay for full day day care at the majority of places. But being 6 doesn’t help either. School is from 8a-3p, but most folks work from 8a-5p (or later). That means before and after school care for that extra 2-3 hours of commuting to and from a job (you can’t legally leave your kids at home in Oregon until they are 10). Most of those programs are financially even worse for parents, as even though the care is for a significantly less about of time you still pay $300/mth for each child (and that is a cheap program).

  2. Julie

    Here’s the deal. Yes, the cost of child care at day care centers in Oregon is high. However, the cost of a nanny in Portland is closer to $12 an hour, definitely not $16. Once you have more than one child (regardless if it is a one parent family or not) it generally makes more sense financially to have a nanny. So, while I agree that the KATU facebook post was somewhat naive, it actually IS cheaper to have a nanny in many cases here in Portland than it is to pay for a child care center. In the end, I think most low income moms in Portland opt to not work at all or will rely on family members for child care when the kids are young (once the kids turn 5 they are in the public schools.)

  3. Anonymous

    Wow, Brian. The point made in this story is that the government ISN’T helping out. Often life, and finances, change during the many years that children are young. I know several single mom families where dad died while the children were young. Or the “family wage” job disappeared and chronic underemployment followed. Or (as in my case) dad developed substance abuse issues, got fired from his job and disappeared. Affordable child care is needed to keep families working and earning an income. While my children were young and I was trying to keep my kids in safe childcare, food and housing, it was repeatedly pointed out to me that we would be better off financially on welfare than working! Is that your answer?


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MEDIA WATCH: More Backwards Priorities from the Oregonian

As you probably know, we’ve spent years watchdogging the Oregonian Editorial Board and exposing their agenda of tax cuts for big corporations and the wealthy, budget cuts for the things that matter, and decimation of worker protections. When they weigh in on matters of the economy, it’s to cheerlead for policies that would benefit those at the very top by making things worse for everyone else.

Over the weekend, they published an editorial that’s a tad more subtle than usual, but nevertheless pushes an agenda completely at odds with making Oregon’s economy work for everyone. This time, they’re cloaking their agenda in the guise of “small business.”

First, a bit of background: The Oregon Employment Department recently put out a report explaining why Oregon has income rates lower than the rest of the country. The short answer, according to the Employment Department, is that we have a ton of people moving here, willing to work for less as a tradeoff for living in the splendor that is the Beaver State. There are also more part-time workers and more self-employed people. In short, there’s little reason for employers to pay more.

Among people who are “self-employed” (or are “entrepreneurs”), those in Oregon make 72 percent of the national average. Why? The Employment Department says it’s “difficult to figure out,” and many of the estimates are based on reporting at the national level.

The Oregonian Ed Board, though, think they have it all figured out: the state should focus on “reducing regulations and initial fees” on businesses, which really is their answer for everything. Never mind the fact that Portland ranks #5 on Forbes’ list of “Best Places to Launch a Startup in 2014,” and never mind the fact that Oregon is home to some of the world’s most innovative new companies. And never mind the fact that we’ve got one of the lowest—if not THE lowest—corporate tax burdens in the country.

The writers at the Editorial Board think we should cut fees, taxes, and regulations so that when the startups grow into successful large companies, they don’t relocate to another state.

It’s an unsurprisingly myopic answer from the conservatives at the Oregonian—and one that would lead nowhere if legislators chose to listen to them. If we really want to boost the state’s economy (in both rural and urban areas), we’ve got to invest in education and infrastructure at all levels. And that’s going to require some actual investment of funds.

Right now, though, Oregon is continuing to underfund those core needs, and it’s largely because big corporations (the ones the Oregonian wants small businesses to turn into) aren’t paying their share of taxes. In fact, they’re paying a lower overall tax rate than small businesses—and much lower than individuals pay.


That’s due to a couple of reasons: First, Oregon’s tax code contains hundreds of tax breaks, many of which are really only available to large, profitable corporations, allowing them to reduce their tax rate to negligible amounts. Second, Oregon’s corporate minimum tax is capped at $100,000 for corporations with more than $100 million in sales, which means that the largest corporations have a far lower minimum tax than small businesses relative to their sales.

Oregon’s tax system should be structured so that small businesses and individuals aren’t carrying the entire tax burden because large corporation are getting off the hook. And yet, the model we have now lets the biggest corporations continue to avoid paying their fair share.

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Lane County Commissioners Try Preemptive Strike Against Paid Sick Leave

The Eugene City Council is poised to pass a landmark ordinance on paid sick leave, which is good news for workers in the city. Everybody should be able to take a sick day when their health requires it without having to worry about missing a paycheck—or working while sick and spreading illnesses.

Eugene would join a growing number of municipalities providing such protections for working people.

But the Lane County Commissioners are trying to push through three ordinances that are an attempt to undercut the Eugene City Council’s efforts. It would be a preemptive strike against the city, but highly unlikely to stop the policy. Paid sick leave has the strong support of too many community groups, leaders, and voters to be stopped by the tinkering of the county commission.


On Monday morning, the Commission is holding a hearing on their three proposals. The County scheduled their hearing for just before the City was scheduled to hold its own. Expect much grandstanding.

The County Commissioners, of course, aren’t openly admitting that they don’t want to provide such basic protections for workers. Instead, they’ve shrouded their opposition in “process” and “authority.” Despite the commissioners’ claims, their efforts won’t actually block the Eugene City Council from voting on–or implementing–paid sick leave.

From the Register Guard:

Commissioner Sid Leiken said the board was acting in response to a jurisdictional “overreach” by the City Council in attempting to control businesses outside the city limits.

“What we’re talking about here is way beyond sick leave,” he said. “This is about establishing who has authority, who doesn’t, and how (these types of issues) resolve themselves in the future.”

The folks at Everybody Benefits Eugene, the campaign in favor of the sick leave policy, have collected thousands of letters in support of the ordinance. To add your story and name to the petition, go here: http://everybodybenefitseugene.org/

One Response to “Lane County Commissioners Try Preemptive Strike Against Paid Sick Leave”

  1. Hypocrits

    Pretty hypocritical for Our Oregon (public emplyee unions) to support a law that violates Article 1 Section 21 of the Oregon Constitution’s prohibition on passing laws that violate exisitng contracts. The unions used that section to in court argumants to invalidate PERS reforms. I guess implied contracts between empoyers and employees are only good when they work in AFSCME’s, SEIU’s and OEA’s favor.

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