Click HERE to view the Bend Chamber Child Care Survey summary.
The Bend Chamber of Commerce released results of two surveys on child care, one from employers and hiring managers and the other targeted to employees. The purpose of the survey was to better understand whether child care needs are impacting businesses to attract and retain employees, and how child care affects the workforce. Respondents for the survey were from Bend and the region, and included 128 employers and hiring managers, and 333 employees.
Employers are feeling the impact of child care shortages on their business, with 96 percent responding that it is at least somewhat to very difficult for employees to find and afford child care. Child care challenges affect companies in a variety of ways, with 92 percent of employer respondents citing attendance as the top issue, 57 percent stating impacts to productivity and 54 percent saying employee retention is directly affected. “It is clear that child care is a significant factor for employers in attracting and retaining talent,” said Katy Brooks, Bend Chamber of Commerce CEO. Of the employer respondents, 37 percent said that at least a quarter (up to more than half) of their workforce needed child care services.
Employees are also feeling the impact of child care shortages in Central Oregon, with 73 percent responding it is very difficult. Additionally, it is impacting budgets and the cost of living. Over 20 percent of employee respondents say that childcare takes 25 percent of their income, with 21 percent saying it takes 50 percent or greater of their total income to pay for care. Comments in the survey conveyed the difficulties of finding child care and the impacts to family expenses, often stating that it is the second highest family expense behind paying mortgage or rent. Survey comments indicated that salary, housing and discretionary spending was greatly impacted by child care costs. “From our conversations with employers and those working in and around the child care industry, this is a challenge that will require a collaborative effort, with both public and private sectors, to tackle,” said Brooks.
Providers in the region say that the major contributors to the high cost of providing child care include requirements for ratios of infants, children and teachers that accumulate labor costs. Operational and facility costs are also steep in the industry where insurance and liability coverages/regulatory requirements, permit fees and facility rental and mortgage expenses further increase costs to providers.
The Chamber is part of a larger group of providers, employers and experts in the child care field who have formed a task force to form a strategy to ease the issue. The City of Bend is also evaluating methods of reducing costs for child care facilities and will be discussing options in the following months.