To the surprise of no one, child care remains massively expensive and is putting a huge strain on the bank accounts of families around America.
On Thursday morning, Child Care Aware of America released its latest report about the costs of child care around the country. As in previous years, the results were bleak. Even though this is the eighth year the organization has been releasing such a report, authors say "the picture for families has not improved ... and child care remains one of the most significant expenses in a family budget."
While the organization concludes that the cost of child care is too expensive everywhere, researchers do note that costs vary widely by state. The differences are likely due to variability in labor costs and the cost of living expenses. Authors calculated their numbers about the average cost of child care by surveying Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) State Network offices and local CCR&Rs. They looked at costs over a nine-month period, not including summer months.
The map below from the report highlights the variability -- showing the 2013 average cost for center-based infant care as a percentage of a married couple's income around the country. Notably, while this map looks only at married couples, costs of child care can be even more of a strain for single parents. Overall, the report finds that New York is the least affordable state for this type of child care and Louisiana is the most affordable.
In fact, New York was found to have the least affordable center-based child care across the board, for infants as well as 4-year-olds and school-aged children requiring after-school care.
The cost of child care is especially high when you compare it to other major household expenses. For example, the report notes that in 2013, the average cost of child care at a center for infants was higher than "a year’s tuition and fees at a four-year public college in 31 states and the District of Columbia." The graphs below demonstrate this idea, comparing the average total costs of full-time child care at centers for an infant and a 4-year-old to the average costs of other expenses around the country:
The report concludes that a majority of parents are not getting any sort of relief for these costs, and that a majority of funding for child care comes out of parents' pockets. According to the report, while there are "multiple funding sources for childcare in the United States ... each serves only a fraction of the eligible population and they do not integrate into a coordinated, quality child care system."