Free preschool costs $135,000/student

By Taxpayers Association of Oregon Foundation

It seems there’s never enough taxpayer money for child care in Oregon.

The Oregon Capital Chronicle reports that despite bills that would spend $1.3 billion on the state’s new Department of Early Learning and Care, advocates are clamoring for another $70 million.

They claim that Oregon has a shortage of child care providers and that much of the state qualifies as a “child care desert.” Those are areas that have only one child care slot for every three children, whether or not the children need out-of-home child care.

The advocates argue that if the state rains money on the programs then these child care deserts will bloom. If only.

Multnomah County’s Preschool for All program imposed a massive income tax that brings in nearly $190 million a year. But, it’s not really presschool for “all” because the county has only 1,400 slots open.  By a rough estimate that is $135,000 per student.

Money isn’t the problem. The problem is that the Oregon imposes enormous regulatory burdens on child care providers. If these burdens were lifted, we’d see many more providers.

Any money for the Department of Early Learning and Care should be tied to legislation to ease the regulations stifling the entry of child care providers.