Press Releases

Child Care Costs Headlining News Again

April 18, 2014
Report

From the Washington Post to MSNBC to Pew Research Centers, the cost of child care is making headlines again, drawing new attention to Child Care Aware® of America’s  Parents and the High Cost of Care: 2013 Report and the issues it explores; how the cost of child care affects families’ ability to find quality child care for their children. 

The country is talking about child care in the context of broader social issues such as women opting out of the workforce, unequal pay, and the connection between early education and long term success. 

“We know a high quality child care experience delivers better outcomes for children and allows families to pursue education and economic advancement. We’re hopeful these conversations will help drive these facts home to our policy leaders and decision makers,” said Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., Executive Director of Child Care Aware® of America.  “Now more than ever, Congress must act to pass the Child Care and Development Block Grant reauthorization that would set long overdue standards for our country’s child care system.” 

The Child Care and Development Block Grant reauthorization act of 2014 was passed by the Senate in March. The bill is now before the House. 

“While we have made progress, it is clear that we need more of our leaders to fully embrace early learning as central to the future of our children and our economy,” said Ann O’Leary, vice president and director of the children and families program for Next Generation,  and leader of Too Small to Fail at the Child Care Aware® of America 2014 Symposium in Washington D.C. “Our country can and should take a stand on early learning and development. Through thoughtful and collaborative work, we can continue a nationwide conversation about these issues.” 

Download a copy of the report

Findings in the 2013 report about the high cost of child care in 2012 include: 

  • Child care fees for two children (an infant and a 4-year-old) in a child care center exceeded annual median rent payments in every state.
  • In every region of the United States, average child care fees for an infant in a child care center were higher than the average amount that families spent on food.
  • In 31 states and the District of Columbia, the average annual average cost for an infant in center-based care was higher than a year’s tuition and fees at a four-year public college. 

“Child care is expensive, but more importantly, what are families getting for that cost?”  Fraga said. “Early childhood teachers who care for our youngest children and during their most critical years of development, also deserve wages reflecting the importance of their work. Our country and our families deserve a child care system that is affordable and delivers quality. Right now, the child care system doesn’t deliver for our nation and its families. We need to change that.”

 
An early childhood education degree is among the least lucrative of all college majors, and the median pay for child care providers in 2012 was $9.38 per hour, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To speak with a Cost of Care policy expert contact news@usa.childcareaware.org

Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2013 Report

Key Findings and Recommendations

Key findings:

  • The cost of full-time center-based care for two children is the highest single household expense in the Northeast, Midwest and South. In the West, the cost of child care for two children is surpassed only by the cost of housing in the average family budget.
  •  The cost of child care fees for two children exceeded housing costs for homeowners with a mortgage in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Center-based child care fees for an infant exceeded annual median rent payments in 21 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Child care fees for two children (an infant and a 4-year-old) in a child care center exceeded annual median rent payments in every state.
  • In every region of the United States, average child care fees for an infant in a child care center were higher than the average amount that families spent on food.
  • In 2012, in 31 states and the District of Columbia, the average annual average cost for an infant in center-based care was higher than a year’s tuition and fees at a four-year public college.
  • Even the annual average cost of care for a 4-year-old, which is less expensive than care for an infant, was higher than public college costs in 19 states and the District of Columbia. 

The 10 least-affordable states in 2012 for center-based care based on the cost of child care as a percentage of state median income for a two-parent family (in ranked order):

  • For full-time center-based infant care: Oregon, New York, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Colorado, California, Illinois, Hawaii, Washington and Kansas.
  • For full-time center-based care for a 4-year-old: Oregon, New York, Minnesota, Vermont, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Washington, Rhode Island and Illinois. 

Recommendations:

  • A national discussion about the impact of the high cost of child care. This discussion should explore federal and state options; innovative, low-cost solutions that have shown success; and what has worked in other industries.
  • Congress to require the National Academy of Sciences to produce a study on the true cost of quality child care and to offer recommendations to Congress for financing that supports families in accessing affordable, quality child care.
  • Congress to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to ensure all children in low-income working families have access to affordable, quality child care.
  • Congress to reauthorize CCDBG to include investing in Child Care Resource and Referral agencies to assist providers in becoming licensed and in maintaining compliance with licensing standards and help parents identify quality settings.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to require states to eliminate barriers that prevent families from easily accessing child care fee assistance, maintaining eligibility and identifying quality settings.