Children First publishes brief linking child care to Oregon’s economic future

The benefit of child care to children and families is well understood: Access to safe, quality child care gives working parents peace of mind when they can’t be with their children. But child care is more than a valuable support for families—it’s a critical part of our economic health and business infrastructure.

Children First For Oregon Our policy brief, Child Care: Good for Kids, Good for Business, released today, underscores the link between the strength of Oregon’s business climate and the availability of affordable child care. Oregon working parents regularly cite child care as necessary for them to enter and remain in the workforce. Moreover, businesses gain when workers can consistently access this service (whereas employee absenteeism relating to lack of child care cost businesses more than $3 billion dollars nationally)

“Like transportation, child care is part of our current economic infrastructure,” says Ryan Deckert, president of the Oregon Business Association. “It is estimated that child care supports the productive functioning of 8% of Oregon’s overall economy. Increasingly, forward-thinking Oregon businesses have begun offering child care to their employees with the understanding that when employees have safe, affordable arrangements for their children while they work, the workforce is stronger, more stable, and more productive. In addition, providing child care for employees is an important recruitment and retention tool.”

However, Oregon’s ranking among the three least affordable states for child care puts this vital service out of financial reach for many of our state’s working families. Having a toddler enrolled in an Oregon child care center costs a family on average more than $10,000 per year. This exceeds the cost of tuition at an Oregon public college or university.

What’s more, Oregon’s future workforce is at risk when so many families struggle to access early learning opportunities for their children. With more than 3,000 families being turned away from receiving Employment Related Day Care subsidies, the State’s commitment to providing early education to our children falls short.

Parents who have the opportunity to work—especially those who have a chance to reenter the workforce—shouldn’t have to choose between their financial stability and having safe arrangements for their children. As we emerge from the worst recession in a generation, we should be making sure that parents with job opportunities are able to seize those opportunities. When parents are able to work, the economy grows and children thrive.

In the coming months, lawmakers will be deciding the fate of the Employment Related Day Care program and tax credits that allow thousands of Oregon workers to access the child care that keeps them in the workforce.

What Oregon can do to support business and families:

  Remove enrollment caps on the Employment Related Day Care program and allow all currently eligible families to participate.

  Expand eligibility for the Employment Related Day Care program from 185% of the Federal Poverty Level to 250% FPL, which more accurately reflects a family’s ability to afford child care.

  Extend the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, the Working Family Tax Credit, and the Employer Provided Dependent Care Tax Credit, which are set to expire in 2015.

You may access the full report here.

 

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Children First for Oregon | P.O. Box 14914, Portland, OR 97293 | ph (503) 236-9754 | fax (503) 236-3048