Child care is hard to come by in Central Oregon.
“Infant care is almost impossible to find,” said Becky Groves, of Becky’s Family Child Care in Prineville.
And affordable child care is almost non-existent, but that is out of parent’s control.
“It is really expensive to pay child care, but child care providers also have about half of what they take in go out in expenses,” Groves said. “So we have to charge that much to make a living.”
Grovers says she has to turn desperate parents away every day.
“We have parents in Prineville that are driving to Bend for child care, and then back to Prineville to do their job,” said Kim Daniels, executive director of the Prineville Chamber of Commerce.
The child care shortage has been so significant in Central Oregon, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has been hosting meetings across the region to discuss what can be done with businesses and community leaders.
According to Julia Barfield from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, 51 percent of people across the country live in what’s considered a child care desert.
And 60 percent of Oregonians live in a child care desert themselves.
This impacts families not only financially, but in the work place as well.
“We know that if a woman leaves the work place because child care is so expensive, she may have had to make the tough decision that her income is not worth the child care payments,” Barfield said. “We’re losing that skilled worker, we’re losing a great opportunity for her to contribute to the work place.”
Barfield says the child care shortage in Central Oregon has more than one source.
From availability to cost of care to the cost of living.
“I have to charge the going rates.,” Groves said.