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