PORTLAND -- Day care costs many Oregon families a larger percentage of their income than parents any other state in the nation, according to a new study.

A report just released by Child Care Aware of America found that the average parent of a child under the age of five in Oregon is spending 18.6 percent of their family's income on daycare. The average cost for infant day care in Oregon is currently $13,452 a year, according to the study.

Some Oregonians are paying more for day care than they would for a college education. In nearly two-thirds of the country, average child care costs were greater than yearly tuition and fees at a four-year public college.

Oregon was ranked in the report as the least affordable states in the nation for child care and Washington state was number nine.

This report is really just one of many that have come out that are sounding the alarm that Oregon families are really struggling to meet their basic needs, and child care is a basic necessity if you are a working parent, said Martha Calhoon of the Advocacy group Children First for Oregon.

Researchers said child care was typically the biggest monthly expense for families and as costs continue to rise, it s putting a strain on family finances. Center-based infant care for one child was equal to a mortgage payment in many cases and greater than median rent payments in nearly half of the states. Fees for two young children exceeded rent in all 50 states.

Last year, the cost of child care went up about 3 percent across the nation. The report said high prices are due to rising operational costs at day care facilities like insurance and food.

Child care for an infant in Oregon costs around $13,000 a year, which calculated to about 61 percent of what the average single mother makes, and nearly 19 percent of a married couple's combined income. In Washington, child care costs average about $12,000 a year or 14 percent of a married couple's income. (See cost breakdown listed below.)

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