Portland Childcare Choices


When I went back to work after my first daughter was born, my grad student husband and my mom were able cover most of our childcare needs. And then we moved away from family to Portland. With Nana no longer around the corner and my husband now a busy assistant professor, I’ve been researching the different childcare options here in Portland now that we have two children. Thankfully we are fortunate to have lots of daycare choices to suit many families’ needs, including full-time, in-home, drop-in, and co-ops.


Full-Time Childcare

Many childcare centers have a wait list, with the most popular ones having a wait list that’s years long, so if you think full-time childcare is in your future, it might pay to start looking now (even if your little one is still in utero)! In fact, one friend told me she received a call that her eight-year-old was just now offered a spot at a preschool!

In-Home Care

A nanny or babysitter might be a good fit if your child is a homebody. My one-year-old loves being at home, and isn’t the biggest fan of the car seat, so hiring another mom to spend time with her while I work at home has worked really well for us recently. I hired a mom from my daughter’s elementary school through a neighborhood Facebook group, but other friends have had success finding care through the Next Door app, Sitter City, or a nanny agency like Northwest Nannies. Hiring a teen or pre-teen as a mother’s helper can also have the benefit of lower cost while helping your kids build a relationship with someone who can take on more responsibilities as they get older. We’re currently investigating the idea of hosting an au pair after our roommates move away.

Drop-in Care

If you don’t need full-time or regular childcare, drop-in care may be the right option for your family. Kids Klubhouse in Beaverton, Mall Nanny in Vancouver Mall, and many community centers have drop-in care. Several gyms in the area, like 24-Hour Fitness, also have on-site childcare. Check with preschools in your area; for example, I discovered that Kinder Spirit preschool in Hillsdale has drop-in childcare (with advance reservation) to coincide with cross-fit and yoga classes at nearby Upper Westside Play Gym.

Co-Operative Preschool

If you and your little one are not quite ready for traditional preschool, a co-operative preschool may be a good option for you. There are co-op preschools in all of Portland’s quadrants. Most co-ops offer part-time preschool and lower tuition in exchange for parents working shifts in the classroom and taking on administrative tasks that might usually be filled by paid staff. 

Finding childcare that fits your family’s needs with providers that respect and love your child can make all the difference in the well-being of everyone in your home. Of course, you should always follow your intuition and check out your childcare providers. I’m glad we have a few types of childcare to choose from. Now, if I could only find a co-working space with an on-site preschool…well, a mom can dream.

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Aside from being a writer, Kendra is a Birth Trauma Doula at KarysMa Birth, where she helps moms find their joy after birth trauma. A former middle school English and theatre teacher, she has an insatiable love for learning and a flair for the dramatic. Among the best moments of her life, she counts marrying her husband Steve during a dream rainbow wedding, planning a princess picnic on the beach with her eight year old daughter Karys, giving birth to her one year old daughter Saryn in the middle of a blizzard, and sitting on stage with Glennon Doyle. A Navy brat for the first 13 years of her life, Kendra settled in Virginia for eighteen years before she was finally ready to move again, relocating to Portland in 2014. You can find her work on Portland Moms Blog, The La Leche League Blog, and The Not Your Average Mom Project, as well as the hard drive of her computer.