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I also just shelled out my monthly ($1175) for a total of 5 days of care (for 2 kids) and have spent the morning wondering if it's really worth it for me to spend a huge percentage of my monthly pay on childcare. I know there are cheaper childcare options out there. I also know that I would have a panic attack each time I had to leave my child in care that wasn't up to my standards. It seems like it's "you get what you pay for" so I'm paying a ton. I feel so fortunate that we have this option to use a childcare center that we trust ... even if it means going into debt in the process. This morning I sat down and looked at my paystub and took into consideration the money that I'm saving for retirement, my benefits and of course my desire to be in the workforce. I have to do that every once in a while to remind myself why I am writing these enormous checks. It is worth it but it sucks. I would love a quality, cheaper option. Co-op schools don't really work for those of us with jobs and multiple kids. I think about this ALL the time and I just don't have a solution. I'm looking forward to the days of cheaper education as they get older.


Oh, but it doesn't really ever get any cheaper. Yes, once the kids enter public school, your daycare costs go down. However, you still have to consider before- and after-school care, extracurriculars, fund raisers, tutoring...the list goes on.

Add this to my frustration: I have my 5th grade daughter in off-site afterschool care--there are a number of reasons why the onsite care at her school doesn't work for us. But--every single free or low-cost school-based extracurricular activity is immediately after school, and she can't attend because her afterschool care can't provide transportation after the activity (and yes, we've tried to work something out and it simply isn't feasible for them to make that extra run back to her school). I hear the same frustration from many other working parents: the public school model as it exists really only works for families with at least one stay-at-home parent. And no, in a one parent, one income household, that's not gonna work. So, bye-bye school-sponsored clubs, sports, tutoring, etc. Hello big $$ for club sports, private tutoring, etc.


We just lost our childcare situation and since it's January, nobody really has a spot for us. I heard back "no" nine times. At that point, it felt sort of ridiculous to continue the ever-stressful hunt, especially since the cost of these care places or even a nanny was rivaling my spouse's salary. So, we gave up and he quit his job. Scary. Deep down you are glad because you get to be the one who raises your child, but when it's more economical to leave a long-time's kind of sad. Child care is a vacation home, a second mortgage, a new mortgage for your dream home with space for everyone. I completely understand where you are coming from, Nic, regarding paying out more than you even can to get the standard of care we want for our kids. You go broke for it. I have family in Canada and when I hear what they get in terms of maternity leave and pay, care, etc., I just feel so jealous and frustrated and sad.


My son is starting kindergarten next year and I am already worried about the transition from day-care costs to after-school and school-related costs (I've heard you don't save much). I hadn't considered the after-school/transporation issue, so I appreciate the heads-up. I do have to say, that having moved from the Bay Area it is MUCH better here. I was paying $1600/month for 5 full days for my toddler when we moved two years ago, and my costs here in Pdx are a little more than half that. We couldn't afford to even think about a second kid at those prices (sad, but true). Also, if your employer (or your spouse) allows you to set up a flexible spending account for dependent care - do it! I'm not smart enought to understand all the tax implications, but it apparently is quite a deal!


Karen has a great point about the Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for dependent care. If you or your partner's employer offers this benefit, seriously consider it and she if it fits your family situation. I don't know that I could explain the whole thing in this space either, but I do know this: I've realized significant tax savings using this option over claiming child care on my taxes. You can contribute up to $5,000, pre-tax, to an account from which you are reimbursed for dependent care costs. This is compared to the maximum of $2,000-ish that you can take as a tax deduction, and I think that $2,000 goes down as your income goes up. I am a HUGE fan of the FSA!


I'll throw in my experience, which has some less expensive options. I work half-time, so my third child is in childcare two days per week. We have her in a friend's in-home "pre-school" for around $300/mo. Not only is this high quality care, but this person loves my child. Some days this childcare provider also picks up my oldest daughter from school, since it's close by her place, and keeps her the last hour or two of those days. Other days my mom or sister-in-law will pick her up. My son is at Woodlawn for pre-K (free) and goes home with a friend after school on those two days for an hour or two as well. I take that friend home with me when I pick my son up to give mom a break as she takes her daughter to gymnastics. The juggling and logistics for working and childcare is always stressful - no doubt about it. Not everyone has friends and family around who can work out such arrangements, but it could be worth pursuing.


Hey activista- thanks so much for this post.

What a huge issue. I too am amazed at what I pay ($1010- 1 child full time). I have been holding my breath for next year - kindergarten when hopefully costs will go down.

But when actually looking at fee kindergarten (another thread altogether but really an amazing topic that some of the schools charge for public schools) plus aftercare (which I am including summer care and inservice day costs) my monthly bill will go down from $1010 to $700. Granted that is less but for public school and aftercare for one child it is still a hefty cost. I think I can still do the flex benefits. Which I do- super easy - up to $5000 pretax dollards. But paying $8383 yearly for Kindergarten and aftercare- Whew! Adds up.

I am not an activista- just tying to naivate all this.

I dont know what next steps are to raise awareness on this situation but I do remember my tax guy mentioning the $5000 flex amount for child care hadnt been raised in many years. Not sure if that is a starting point for conversation?

But it doesnt really address the core issues of unavailable affordable care. (Not to mention this fee Kindergarten issue!)

I am really interested to hear other folks thoughts and maybe some action items or talking points that would be managable for a "not quite activista".


I am very interested in pursuing the idea of increasing the FSA cap from $5,000 (and along with it, I imagien, the child care tax credit). Thinking that means the IRS? It is federal, so at the very least we can check in with our Reps and Senators (note to self!). Sure sounds, uh, long term.

Also, on an unrelated (and perhaps defensive) note, my kids have always been in "centers" and I have always felt that the staff/teachers love my kids, too (or I wouldn't be able to leave them there!).Kisses galore, genuine care. Child care love can be found in all places :-)


One thing about FSAs and dependent is only available until children reach their kindergarten year. You can use it for before and aftercare, but the rules are pretty clear that school day expenses for kindergarten and up are not allowed. I'm pretty sure it is an IRS regulation. I work for a school and have seen many parents submitting dependent care forms for their kindergarten age children. I'm guessing there are some inconsistencies amongst human resource professionals, which is unfortunate because it's probably considered tax fraud. Yikes!



Thanks for the comment about the $5000 being for before/after care but not Kindergarten. I wasnt aware of that. I think my after/before care will exceed $5000 all the way through school but it is an interesting thought.

It also brought up the thought for me to check with the calendar year of school (Sept-June) vs the Flex timeframe which I THINK for me is Apr-Apr because of my company fiscal year. Not 100% sure but all good things to check before I sign up again for my flex dollars.


I'm sorry, but if you're buying into (literally) the idea that "you get what you pay for" applies to childcare, then you have not spent enough time exploring your options. And, you are not doing your children or your family as a whole any favors if you are stretching your finances or making major concessions in order to cover the cost of preschool or daycare. Let's consider, for example, the benefit of the time together and the break from work and school that that family vacation would provide. There are a number of less expensive options out there, including in-home programs (less overhead) and centers. I'm not saying anyone should be skimping on childcare costs, but a little comparative shopping might be in order.

The preschool my daughter attends costs just over $600 for full time and we love it. Her teachers are kind and imaginative and clearly love what they do and the children are always busy and engaged when I am there to drop her off and pick her up. And even after a long eight hour day, she often informs me that she is not ready to leave yet. On the other hand, I know parents that have sent their children to very pricey and popular private Montessori schools with extremely long-waiting lists and when they finally got in, their kids were miserable.

The bottom line is that quality of care that your children receive has little to do with the cost and everything to do with whether the school is the right fit for your child. The teachers (who I doubt are the ones seeing that extra $400 a month apiece that all of the parents are shelling out) are always the defining characteristic of a quality program. If you spend some extra time (I know that's even scarcer than the extra money for most of us) exploring the options out there, visiting with you child during school and observing the teachers and other children and how your child responds to them, I think you will find there are a lot of high quality programs with highly educated, caring and passionate teachers that are far more affordable. And then maybe that extra money can go towards that heart-stopping amount of money college tuition is going to cost by the time our preschoolers are eighteen. Yikes!


I would've been homeless had my daughter been born in Oregon. Luckily, is San Francisco at the time there were some sliding scale childcare centers. We did home-based care until she was three, and the private preschool she went to had partial scholarships.

At that time, I was a single parent earning around $12 per hour. My portion of the childcare costs were about $350 per month. Full price for Family Day Care was $500-600 and center-based up to about 900 per month. She's 13 so this was awhile ago. In Oregon, we would've never qualified for any sliding scale or scholarships.

When we moved here, I was stunned by the lack of affordable child care. I am pretty resourceful and it was pretty difficult. I stopped paying for afterschool care in 6th grade. Sometimes folks to have pick schools based on the afterschool options.

Our FSA allows use for up until 13 years of age for child care costs. No tuition, though.

I say if you have the option of flex-time or trading care with a partner, use them. Oregon is not a state that prioritizes affordable, quality child care, for those who most need it, much less the rest of us.

I volunteered with a group that was working on raising the quality of family based Child Care. The unintended result was that the providers raised their fees, required deposits and priced many poorer working families right out of the equation.

I would've never been able to afford a deposit for child care. Ever. Consequently, I have a single child who will likely not ever have a sibling. Seriously.


I am an in-home childcare provider & I just have to chime in on both sides! I quit my full-time job because my employer wouldn't let me do part time & because even though I wouldn't have spent more than $6 an hour for 2 children (family rate since my sister-in-law was the daycare provider) I just couldn't see working for the miserable amount I would have brought home after taxes, daycare, gas & etc.
So I do childcare instead. I shiver to think of the family that will end up paying me $9000 over the course of the year. Then I wonder, how much do they earn?
Childcare is a hard job & I hate to charge more than $4 per hour but on the other hand, I have a house payment & I can't take more than 3 children at a time since I have 2 little ones of my own. Charging $4-5 per hour seems unethical to me, but then I had 4 different families tell me (all in the span of a month) that I should raise my rates! I guess it all comes down to market forces.


A good friend just shared a recent (12.28.07) article on MSN Money called (surprisingly): The Child Care Crisis. More of the same but I guess we know we're not alone! Check it out here: Does it ring true for you?


Is the Peninsula Children's Center really the only sliding fee-scale daycare center in town? Does this say something about how difficult it is to get off the ground an independent, non-profit daycare center that benefits all economic class of family? Is it somehow easier to put these enterprises together in the Bay Area than in Portland? Or is it that it just hasn't been attempted again? Or has it been done, quietly & w/ no fanfare, so is underground somewhere?

Sorry that I have only questions, not answers, but they seem relevant to this discussion. It also seems like the "Activistas" of my dreams could be about not just influencing our elected officials, but also filling the gap ourselves, in appropriate instances. I mean, there's a lot on urbanmamas about what peeps call mamapreneurship. Starting an affordable daycare might be a daunting enterprise, but there must be peeps on this list up to the task. It's something I've often thought about, though all by myself and therefore completely in a vacuum.

Just freeform thinking out loud here...


Fruit and Flower has a sliding fee scale


Fruit and Flower has a sliding fee scale


I work for a non-profit school in Portland and can attest to the fact that child care needs to be subsidized in some way to make it widely available and also to increase quality. The two largest expenses in our budget are rent/mortgage and salaries. Unless the center is located in an affordable part of town (often the suburbs), the cost of occupancy is outrageous. Then if you set a salary structure that can attract good teachers, right off the bat you're needing to charge higher rates. If there was some way to get subsidized space, that would have a huge impact on a center's ability to lower rates or have a sliding scale. There is no way around the salary expense though. Not to say higher salaries guarantee higher quality teachers, but if you set a salary and benefit package that takes care of your employees, you're sending a clear message that their work is valued.

Also, there is an option through DHS that subsidizes child care for families withing a certain income level. We have had families using this program in the past and from our end it was really easy.


I tried posting this yesterday: Fruit and Flower in NW Portland has a sliding fee scale and the YMCA childcare/aftercare centers have financial assistance as well. If you only need a half-day program, Friendly House in NW offers a sliding fee scale, and I think their afterschool program serving Chapman has a sliding fee schedule as well.


This is a very interesting and timely discussion for me as my husband and I are in the process of exploring a move to (his native) Norway. One of the biggest draws for me is the assistance that Norway provides to families with young children. As residents, we would be guaranteed a spot in a local "barnehagen" (it's a childcare center for babies one year up to kindergarten age with different classes for each age group--as the children get older, there is a larger focus on education and it's full time) and not required to pay more than approximately $400 month for one child with a cap for more than one child that I think is about $600/month. This applies for private and public centers alike. Because the care is so affordable and available (and evidently good, although I suspect it just depends on the individual centers/people, etc.) most moms work full time once they finish their (up to one year!) maternity leave. In addition to childcare assistance, the government sends each family with children a check monthly to help with the costs associated with raising children--if we move now, we would be receiving almost $1000/month for our 2 children for the next 2.5 years until our youngest turns 3, and then somewhere in the range of $700/month until they turn 18. Not to mention the free healthcare...

Based on these factors alone, it seems like a no-brainer, but unfortunately, it's not such a simple decision to make!


The Europeans have plenty figured out that we can't quite seem to get, says the Socialist in me. But, as enticing as the system Leah presents sounds, my guess is that if we had the same here, instead of grousing about childcare costs, we'd be griping about our tax bill. In my more cynical moments, I get so frustrated that as a society we seem to want a lot available to us without paying the price of having it. And we want the things we want so badly that we don't stop to value human beings as much as we should. In my more sane moments, I can see things much more rationally. I guess for me so much of this boils down to priorities and values, which I think are so splintered in this country that it's difficult to reach any good policy that really makes a difference. I have many strong feelings about what my tax dollars pay for and feel kind of angry when folks want to spend it on things that aren't priorities for me or go against my personal values, particularly when things that I think ought to have my dollars don't. While that's really a topic for another day, it does seem to be at the heart of many conversations happening here.

But, back to the topic at hand. Something Leah says is unsettling to me and that is that most moms work once the kiddos hit one year because childcare is so accessible. So, could that be one reason it isn't a value to make childcare accessible? And, on the flipside, if childcare became more affordable, wouldn't it be that much more difficult to make the decision to be at home?

Erika Plummer

I just returned to work from a 5 month Maternity Leave (the last 8 weeks of which were "discretionary" and graciously allowed by my employer since FMLA only covers 3 months....) with my second son.
Our monthly Childcare bill is now a whopping $1880 per month for full-time care. That's $22,560 per year. It is an incredible amount of money. It is shocking to me. But we pay it because our older son has thrived in this particular place (he is now in their pre-school) and often times is so enthralled with play he doesn't want to come home.
I have tremendous piece of mind with their staff who are affectionate and engaged with the kids, but also have high standards for manners, etc. But I think we are but a minority who could afford this, and if we couldn't and I had to work what would we do? Would we be forced to send our kids somewhere that I don't get this sense of comfort? And after this second Maternity Leave I felt like my first choice would be to stay home for a year or two, but now we are trapped in mortgage, car payments, school loans, etc. that match our very large annual income (75% of which I bring home). So I am relieved we can afford but still feel unease about it. I like what Leah described they do in Norway. This clearly shows a Country that makes children, family a priority and I for one would HAPPILY pay more taxes to have such benefits. Heck in CA they raised taxes for Paid Family Leave (which both parents can enjoy....$840 per week and which extends FMLA by 3 months!) and it was something like .18 cents per paycheck.
Also we do the max $5000 FSA, wish the $5k was allowed for each child. But remember, you still have to be able to afford the $5k, it just lowers your Taxable Income at the end of the year, thus lowering taxes owed hence a nice savings...but then you will probably get hit with the AMT, an entirely different hot topic!
Finally, each of my sons are at a different facility...boy that's a fun juggling act each morning and afternoon (especially with a 5 month old) and I am already panicking about what to do about Kindergarden, when my older son will need aftercare, etc.....It is my belief that Childcare is the single most stressful part of parenting for the working mother/father!


Regarding anon's comment on my comment... Norway has one of the strongest female workforces in the world--yes, most mamas work while raising children here. (As an aside, it just became law in Norway that the Board of any corporation in Norway must be comprised of at least 40% females...another interesting topic for conversation!) But, who really knows why? Is it because they have guaranteed access to affordable childcare, or is it because the cost of living is so high that families cannot afford to live on one paycheck? The cost of living here is seriously scary. Real estate especially--we are currently in Norway, and have looked at a few houses and just cannot believe the prices--we thought we'd experienced sticker shock several years ago while househunting in Boston, but no! So if we decide to make this move, sure, we'll have access to wonderful benefits for our young family, but we are pretty sure that I will need to go back to work once I can become more comfortable with the language, which is a huge factor for us to consider. I've been home by choice for most of the last 3 years raising my babies, and I can't help but be a little resentful of the fact that I might not be able to make that choice if we move. It's a very complicated decision with lots of trade-offs to consider, and yes, everything is relative.


Aahh - and issue close to my heart and my pocketbook. Our childcare for one toddler just went up again (the 3rd time in a year) to $1025 per month. We are very happy with our childcare and I know that they struggle to pay quality teachers a fair wage, provide insurance and keep their other bills paid. But in doing so, they have raised the rates about 10% in the last year.
Talk about outstripping the pace of inflation!

We make use of a FSA which helps, but $5000 doesn't get you very far.
Plus, we've found it difficult to find high quality infant and toddler care that fits a full-time working schedule. There seems to be a wealth of pre-school options, but not so for kids under 2.5 or three.
We've encountered options that have hours that run from 8-4. I'm sorry, but working full time doesn't allow you to have that schedule!

Just my current rant. We have nothing but positive things to say about our current care and feel blessed that we can afford it. But what about all those folks who can't??


Peninsula isn't the only sliding scale, but it is one of the better ones. Most sliding scales aren't very helpful if you earn over $22K with one child in Oregon. When I was on the Employment Related Day Care program and earning around $11 per hour with a faily size of two, my co-pay for afterschool care was $353 per month. Which means the program would pay whatever my "reasonable" costs were once I'd paid $353. As I didn't have a special needs child, nothing over that amount was ever considered reasonable.

I worry that anyone would think that limiting affordable child care would ever be a good thing for families.

Many parents cannot possibly afford the quality childcare that they want for ther childcare. More parents are choosing the lesser of two evils. Or leaving nine year olds in charge of toddlers. Who just hope to find someone who can accomodate a swing shift schedule or pick up their kids from school. And hope for basic safety.

What do we do to make sure that their precious babies have access to the quality care that many of us take for granted?


One of my favorite topics, and I feel like I'm coming into the conversation late. Better late than never, I guess! New Day School in SE also offers a sliding-scale. Helen Gordon offers a hefty discount for tuition for parents who are PSU students.

Maybe the astronomical cost of childcare is another way of promoting abstinence (birth control)? I know, very cynical, but it really makes my husband and I think long and hard about whether we can afford more than two kids. With a pretty hefty childcare bill, could we really have another child? Who came up with the $5000 cap anyway? It just seems completely archaic when the cost of childcare is so high. It just goes to show how out of synch lawmakers are with reality.


Some good resources on Take Care Net's early education and child care web page: I'm going to investigate how & where to lobby to get the $5,000 limit raised. Might as well think big, mamas. 'Cause if we're not going to, who is???


Here's a policy agenda from the NACCRA (thorough state-by-state info here:

- Increase federal and state investment in child care subsidies and quality improvement activities so that more high-quality child care options are available to and affordable for parents.
- Provide resources for planning and developing child care capacity to increase the availability of child care options for working families.
- Reduce barriers in the subsidy administration process that prevent eligible families from accessing child care assistance.
- Ensure that public pre-kindergarten programs are designed to meet the child care needs of working families.
- Improve federal and state tax codes to help families at all income levels pay for child care.


well, ladies, it is truly shocking to read some of the situations you are all in! I work very hard, two telecommuting part-time jobs that pay pretty well, but what some of you pay in child-care is half of my income! My husband has been in and out of jobs since we moved to Oregon 7 months ago (thank you, economy!) and I balance 40+ hours a week PLUS full-time raising of my 2 year old. (Added bonus- no sick days, personal days, vacation time, etc.)I would love love love to have him with other toddlers a few days a week because he begs me to play with all day and the reality is I just can't. But we took a tour of our favorite center in the area and two days a week is $600 dollars a month. That is a week of my net income, and since we are already paycheck to paycheck, there is just no way.
Sometimes I think we have a lot of bills and I have a right to complain, but its a real eye-opener to peek into some of your lives in such comments. For example, we have no mortgage(1,000 a month rent in Irvington neighborhood), no car payments or insurance (sold the family car to "go green" so we bike, walk and bus to get around), no cable, no home phone, no childcare expenses, I never get my hair done, eyebrows waxed, so on and so forth. We have been resourceful because we HAVE to be. We make do and probably don't appear very "poor" on the outside looking in.
But back to childcare, it would be awesome to get some kind of two or three day a week childcare situation, but I am one of those you talked about who just can't afford it. I'm not sure what the solution is, but I just keep on working and have to hope that one day I'll actually be in one of YOUR SHOES to be able to say I can even afford 1,000+ a month on childcare!


Here's a link to the state of Oregon's cild care subsidy program to see if you qualify:


I don't get it. I started working part time when my son just turned one. I was really lucky because for the first two months my mother lived in the same town and watched him. Now my best friend watches him for only $4.oo/hr. We are now expecting our second child and she is returning to school so therefore can no longer watch my first come fall, let alone the new one due this winter. I'm afraid I won't be able to work part time anymore. With two children having to enter a day care and barely making $13/hr, what would be the point of working, just to hand over almost my entire check to a daycare person to watch my children, when I could and would prefer to do that myself? How am I suppose to help my hubby pay bills. I had no clue how much child care is until I recently started looking into it, and honestly I'm dumbfounded. What is a mother to do?

Caroline Diaz

You should try an Au Pair. We have one for our two children and it costs about $1280 for 45 hours of childcare. She also cooks for them and sometimes for us, cleans their rooms and everywhere else where they play. She speaks German to them and they are learning another language for free. I don't have to worry about running to drop them off or anything else. The au pair takes them to the park even to some play dates with friends and the love her. You should try this


In re: your au pair, Caroline, is this a live-in option only?


It's a horrible situation. Childcare is so expensive, but the women (and men), who work in the field really only make enough to get by.
Our center was fortunate enough to receive a grant for the next 3 years to offer scholarships for families whose income may not be as low as someone receive state assistance, but who needs a cushion to help with childcare costs. The program is called The Childcare Community Fund.
As for au pairs, it can be a great experience if you go into it with the idea of a 'cultural exchange' instead of simply looking for cheap labor. I speak 3 languages and was able to travel and au pair in a couple of different countries, but sadly, I saw many of my friends abused in terms of labor and it often seemed one-sided. For many of these girls it was their only opportunity to experience a foreign land and yet they were stuck scrubbing floors and changing diapers into evening and too tired to go out exploring after their 'job'.

Bronwyn Talebi

I understand how daycares can cost allot. Thats why I had open a Daycare myself to keep the cost down for others. I have two kids of my own. It cost me most of my paycheck for daycare. For more information please visit out site. We are here to help you. Location

5106 N. Lombard st.Portland Oregon 97203

Check it out!

Marian McDonald

I'm a state certified family child care provider, serving infants and toddlers for almost 15 years. It's my career, my profession, my passion. I expect to be compensated for my work, just as any other licensed professional. It's true "you get what you pay for" and since some of us are spending more hours per week with your child than you do, we should be respected, compensated and appreciated for the valuable work we do. Your child's brain development and abilty to soar in his/her's future is part of our responsibility. What price can you put on that? Offer to spend a week with your child's provider and see the reality of our work. :) Family child care providers have a unique bond with the children they care for and it's about time that families/parents consider their options: a huge mortgage, a high car payment, credit card debt OR quality care for their precious child(ren)? Make a choice: pay for great care or stay home and raise your child.


You should all consider small in home Day cares. I do daycare in my home, and although I have a lot of expenses ,I get to deduct a percentage of all my utilities and my mortgage interest by running a business out of my home. This allows me to charge less than a large center. I usually start infants when mom and dad go back to work, after family leave time, and keep them until they are preschool age. There is no turn over in providers, no payroll costs for me and I form loving attachments to many kids that come back to visit me their whole lives. I do all of this for $35 a day. It still adds up to about $9,000 a year for a family to pay but less than most centers.
It is hard to find openings in a small daycare but if you can find one, consider it. All of my families are very happy and I feel good knowing that I make a huge difference in their lives while doing what comes naturally to me. The kids form friendships that last well beyond their days here at my house. It's a win/win situation for all of us.

Bronwyn Talebi

Just to let everyone know. Bronwyn's Place is having an Open House. Please stop by and check us out. We provide educational program's. Met other family's and enjoy some refreshments. Ph 503.285.6402 address 5106 N. Lombard st, Portland, OR 97203

Tanja Glujic-White

Have you considered having an au pair. many people don't want to hear about the au pairs thinking: "That is something for rich people." But that is not true. You can have an au pair for about $330 per week and that includes program costs and au pair stipend. Schedule is flexible; au pairs can work up to 45 hours per week. Also, price does not change with number of children. I have been involved in au pair program for about 9 years so if you have any questions please feel free to contact me. You can apply now for free and review available au pairs without obligations. Tanja 503-293-8904

Nikki G.

I just wrote an article about this same thing called 'Should the government be funding early childhood education?' You can view the article here:

Basically, my main point is - if brain development is most critical between birth and the age of 5 - why does our government only care about our children once they enter kindergarten and that potential brain power has already been harvested/wasted?

Nikki G.
Sun, Moon & Stars Child Care
Denver Child Care Examiner
Child Care Crossroads Blog

Caitlin Sigler

As a mom of three girls under age 4, hosting an au pair was really the only viable option for us financially. We couldn't triple pay for daycare, that's for sure! I happen to work for Cultural Care and am happy to offer my personal and professional perspective on the au pair program if you'd like to contact me. Don't forget to ask me how to save $1000!


Nancy Smith

If anyone is in North Portland I would encourage you to call Sheila at Discovery Gardens Family Childcare not only is she wonderful but she is very affordable.

Tell her Nancy sent you.
Sheila 503-975-5819



As a family we opted for getting an au pair. The au pairs we've had are great and very flexible arrangement for the kids. It's cheaper than daycare and certainly takes the pressure off rushing to get to daycare before it closes.

You can find au pairs and nannies online yourself which is great for avoiding agency fees. A good site to try is The thing I like about this one is that no personal contact details are displayed or provided to anyone on the Internet.


I am wondering if a nanny share would be a viable option for any of you? If you can get one or two families to go in with you, you could get full-time care for your children for a fraction of the costs that I'm seeing quoted here -- and possibly at your own home.

(I am one such nanny!)


The economic reality of living in Portland has smacked my wife and I right in the kisser. Moving from California, we thought the cost of living would have been lower considering the lower wages here (wife is an RN). Not so. Daycare turns out to be waaay more expensive, state income tax is god awful, property tax is pricey. For strong middle class families Portland Oregon is not the place to be. We seem to be over income for just about everything, yet don't make enough to afford non subsidized services. Seems like you have to either have some serious dough or exist below %185 of the poverty line. As a state worker for Health and Human Services I spend an entire check on daycare alone, an entire check! 80 hrs of work for 1mth of part-time daycare. Great city but so far i'm bummed out on the economic reality of living here.


Have you thought of an au pair? The average weekly cost is less than $320 per family, not per child. That's about $7 per hr. and covers up to 45 hours of child care per week, up to 10 hours a day - in the safety of your home. There is flexibility with scheduling like split shifts. Au pairs live with you. They can drive, perform light housekeeping related to the children (laundry, tidying children's rooms, prepare meals). Au pairs also have medical insurance. background checks, verified references and more. Au pairs arrive on a 12-month visa and may extend up to one year

Children can learn a second language, have play dates, visit museums, attend events and more.

There is a local au pair agency, USAuPair. You might want to give them a call or visit their web site at

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