Megan Pratt
Michaella Sektnan
Organizational Affiliation(s): 
Oregon Child Care Research Partnership, Oregon State University
Publication Date: 
May, 2023

Many families with young children live in what experts have defined as a child care desert, a community with more than three children for every regulated child care slot. This is a follow-up report to the first two reports on child care desert status of Oregon’s counties as of 2018 and early 2020. As of December 2022, using the child care desert standard, families with infants and toddlers in 35 of 36 Oregon counties still live in a child care desert. The picture is slightly better for families with preschool-age children; families in 18 of 36 counties live in a child care desert. The majority of Oregon’s child care supply is parent-funded (tuition and fees); public funding makes up less than a quarter of slots across the state yet plays a crucial role in the child care supply. Between early 2020 and 2022, the number of publicly funded slots for infants and toddlers increased by 49% and publicly funded slots for preschooler by 30%. Without publicly funded slots, all except three Oregon counties would be child care deserts. Nonmetropolitan counties tend to have a higher proportion of public slots compared to metropolitan counties. In addition, higher percentages of preschool slots are publicly funded as compared to infant/toddler slots. The current report focuses on child care supply – how available child care is in a community. These findings should be considered along with additional information about affordability and quality of child care to better understand the extent to which Oregon’s child care is equitably meeting children and families’ needs. This study provides a starting place for considering the multifaceted issues that shape a family’s access to child care.

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