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?”

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

  1. Nance Cedar

    When my oldest needed childcare, there was federal assistance. I couldn’t have made it through college without it. Reagan and Gingrich axed that. Screw the GOP! Wake up, KATU!

  2. Larry McD

    Thank you! Youngblood’s reportage gives a whole new perspective to “cognitive dissonance.” So glad somebody was jarred by it.

  3. Brian

    Everybody thinks the government will bail them out pay for there kids. If they didn’t know that the government was just going to pay the way maybe they would have been more responsible in the first place and waited until they were financially able to care for a child.

    • 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?

    • Chewlett

      Religion plays a large role in birthrate numbers. Don’t just blame people that you believe think the gov is gonna fund their broods.

    • Struggling Single Mother of TWO

      struggling single mother means not responsible huh?? Guess that makes their low life dead beat father who insisted I stay home with the kids a freaking HERO!!?? Ya… no way in hell buddy… I am paying my way through college and don’t get crap for help but that doesn’t mean I don’t ask and that my kids who did not ask to be born don’t deserve every penny of your taxes buddy!!! I bust my ass for what very little we have but guess what jerk off … my kids are the lucky ones… they think that we are just fine so shove up your tailpipe you selfish pos… I bet if you had it just a little bit less spoiled you would be singing a different tune… My childhood was crap and yet it was perfect… you see I had nothing except everything my grandparents worked hard to give me and yet I refuse to NOT break that mold… the problem is that we the people of this fine nation have forgotten to teach our youth how to take care of each other so when it comes down to it we are all just a bunch of whiners and blamers and the idea of helping someone makes us cringe at the thought because GOD forbid we o without our 7th cup of Starbucks for the day… you make me sick and I truly hope people like you are not around if and when the day comes that I am not here and my children need a little help… not to have their way paid because I am raising them better than that but really… your less than an amoeba

      • Struggling Single Mother of TWO

        sorry that my reply was so fashionably late… came across this while looking for affordable safe housing…

  4. 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.)

  5. 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).

  6. DebraP

    I thought it was just me when I read it-nannies are so far outside of what most single parents can afford, it boggles that this is the focus of the “story.”

  7. Nicole

    Daycare is very expensive. I have been doing daycare since 2000, I was 17. I charge $3.00 an per hour. I know what its like to struggle I am a single parent of 2 children myself and I work full time. I’d rather do daycare all day then have to work, that’s what I was doing. I, unlike most nannies do daycare because I love children and its not really about the money for me. It’s about helping others and seeing the joy on children’s faces. Everything is harder now days not just childcare.

  8. Lou

    You have to be kidding me. People need jobs to survive. Go to work for an employer, you have to accept the conditions of employment or you don’t get the job.
    This is nothing more than feudalism.

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