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Child-Care Conundrum Presents Hurdles for OR Families

State News

Finding and affording child care is no cake walk for Oregon families right now. A new report details the pressures and some potential policy fixes. The average Oregon family spends 30-percent of its monthly income on child care. According to the U-S Department of Health and Human Services, families should spend no more than seven-percent. Jyoni Shuler is with Our Children Oregon, which is taking a closer look at these issues.

“We’re seeing that this lack of providers, the burnout there, as well as the lack of slots and availability to access, is impacting every single socioeconomic group. And then certainly, disparities exist among racial and ethnic lines as well, said Shuler. We’re seeing Black and Latinx families, in particular, really struggling to afford and access care.”

Shuler says wages for child-care workers are among the lowest of any profession, affecting a workforce largely made up of women and people of color. Nearly one in seven child-care centers in Oregon faces staffing shortages. Shuler adds the pandemic has created additional hurdles, both for families and providers.

Shuler says Oregon should reduce barriers for establishing child-care homes and centers, to improve access in those areas considered to be “child-care deserts” in the state. She adds the federal government can do more to improve wages for providers and bolster subsidy programs for parents, such as the Child Tax Credit.

“Expanding the availability and the accessibility of care, and then, really investing in our workforce and ensuring that they’re getting their needs met and really invested, at that governmental level,” said Shuler.

Our Children Oregon also suggests investments to ensure the availability of care and education services that are developmentally and culturally responsive, and in multiple languages.

Shuler says ultimately, this is about children. She says kids need trained providers to support proper child development in their first five years.

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