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For Oregon parents, daycare costs more than college

The average annual cost of infant care in Oregon is more than the cost of college tuition, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute.
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 9:37 AM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - The average annual cost of infant care in Oregon is more than the cost of college tuition, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute.

According to the report, parents in Oregon pay an average of just over $13,600 per year in childcare costs for infants, while the average annual tuition at a four-year public college is $10,363.

“In all honesty, I think that it’s not fair, like because if you’re a single parent, you can’t afford childcare. And if you have multiple kids under the age of 5, then it’s even worse for you,” said Joany Kawasaki, a teacher and mother of two.

Kawasaki recalls how strained her monthly budget was when her daughter was an infant a couple of years ago.

“At one time, when we first started out, when she was first born and she was going full-time, it was almost half of my paycheck,” said Kawasaki.

In November 2020, voters in Multnomah County overwhelmingly supported a ballot measure that would provide free preschool for all 3 and 4-year-olds. The program has about 500 preschool seats available for the 2022-2023 year, but those have already been filled, with preference given to families experiencing barriers to accessing preschool.

Even if a family manages to land one of the free preschool slots, that still leaves three years of infant and childcare costs for parents to bear alone.

“The cost is just continuing to rise and our paychecks aren’t rising to meet those costs,” said Kawasaki. “I know a lot of people who choose not to have kids. They only have one kid. Because after the one kid, that’s all they can afford.”

During the pandemic, Congress passed a temporary expansion of the federal child tax credit, in part to address the high costs of childcare, but the expansion recently expired with no additional action by the legislature.