Quality child care is becoming increasingly difficult to afford for working families
According to a report released today by Child Care Aware® the cost of child care continues to increase while families struggle to afford quality care. Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2012 Report provides results from a survey of Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) State Networks and local agencies, which asked for the average fees charged by child care programs in 2011.
The report provides the average cost of child care in 2011 for infants, 4-year-olds, and school-age children in centers and family child care homes nationwide. It shows that in 36 states (including the District of Columbia), the average annual cost for center-based care for an infant was higher than a year’s in-state tuition and related fees at a four-year public college. In every state and the District of Columbia, center-based child care costs for two children (an infant and a 4-year-old) exceeded annual average rent payments.
In North Carolina, the average annual cost of care for an infant in child care center was $9,185 and for a four-year-old was $7,774.
“Families need child care in order to work,” said Ollie M. Smith, Child Care Aware® of America’s Interim Executive Director. “But, child care today is simply unaffordable for too many families. This is not a low income issue. Families at nearly every income — except for the very wealthy –struggle with the cost of child care.”
According to the report, in 2011, the average annual cost of full-time child care for an infant in a center ranged from about $4,600 in Mississippi to nearly $15,000 in Massachusetts. The average annual cost of full-time care for a 4-year-old child in a center ranged from about $3,900 in Mississippi to nearly $11,700 in Massachusetts. In New York, parents of school-age children paid nearly $11,000 a year for part-time care in a center. The report also found that in 2011, the average annual cost of full-time care for an infant in a family child care home ranged from $4,500 in South Carolina to nearly $10,400 in New York. The average annual cost for a 4-yearold in a family child care home ranged from $4,100 in South Carolina to about $9,600 in New York.
The report ranks the 10 least-affordable states for center care based on the cost of child care as a percentage of state median income for a two-parent family. The 10 least affordable states (in ranked order) for full-time center-based infant care in 2011 were: New York, Minnesota, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Indiana and Wisconsin.
The least-affordable states (in ranked order) for full-time care for a 4-year-old in a center in 2011 were: New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont, Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Indiana, Maine and Rhode Island. “During the critical years of birth through age 5, 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed and essential learning patterns are established which affect school-readiness,” said Smith.
“Affordability is important because for many families, the cost affects the settings they are able to choose. Parents want quality care. They want their children to be safe. But, too many families struggle with the cost of care as they hope for the best for their children.”
Download the report.