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Child Care Deserts In Oregon

The OSU Child Development Center is dedicated to discovering and communicating knowledge that contributes to the optimal development and well-being of young children and their families. health.oregonstate.edu/child-development-center

Regulated child care remains in short supply across Oregon, creating child care “deserts” in all 36 of the state’s counties, a new report from Oregon State University shows. Child care deserts exist when there are three or more children for a single regulated child care slot. Regulated care includes child care centers and home-based providers that are licensed by the state. Across Oregon, there are eight infants and toddlers ages 0-2 per slot, while there are three preschool-aged children, 3-5, for every slot. All 36 Oregon counties are child care deserts for infants and toddlers two and under.

All but 9 Oregon counties are child care deserts for preschoolers. “Availability of child care plays a critical role in the lives of Oregon’s families with young children, including if, where and when parents work,” said Megan Pratt, the report’s lead author and an assistant professor of practice in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences and the Extension Family and Community Health Program. “There’s also a growing understanding of the central role stable, quality child care plays in supporting a child’s early development, providing the foundation for life-long learning and well-being.”

The report, “Oregon’s Child Care Deserts,” was commissioned by the Oregon Early Learning Division which partners with OSU on child care research through the Oregon Child Care Research Partnership. The report’s authors are Pratt, Roberta Weber and Michaella Sektnan, all of OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences. The report focuses on the availability of child care in Oregon and does not address issues such as quality or affordability of care, which are other factors that play a major role in child care decision-making. Care in Oregon is very expensive; the median annual price of care for a toddler in a child care center was $14,160 in 2018.