Child Care Costs Still On The Rise
A new report called Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2010 Update, published by the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), says that parents who place their children in child care centers or in a family home-based child care service are paying a large part of their incomes for child care. The organization believes that low and middle-income parents have little access to decent, affordable care.
The new report includes the average costs for infant, 4 year-old, and school-aged child care for every state. In Mississippi, for instance, the average costs of placing a 4 year-old in a child care center ran to over $4,050 while in Massachusetts, parents were paying $13,150 per year. No matter the region in which costs were averaged, it was found that the annual amount a family paid out for center-based child care exceeded the yearly amount families were spending on food. In each state, fees to place two kids in child care for a month exceeded the average cost of rent and matched or exceeded averages for monthly mortgage payments.
The executive director of NACCRRA, Linda Smith, said that the cost of decent child care is beyond the means of a significant number of families. Smith comments on the mind-boggling fact that the costs of center-based child care come to more than college tuition in 40 states. She says we need to work toward getting quality child care for every family.
In today's world, over 11 million kids under the age of 5 are in one or another type of child care arrangement. Working mothers' children spend an average of 36 hours per week in child care. Research has shown that good quality child care in which children are safe and get lots of love, stimulation, and stability, can make a big difference in child-readiness for school at a later date.
But because child care is so expensive, parents may not be able to choose the optimal child care center in their area. Because child care is so expensive, it tends to be the first item parents will cut from their budgets. A parent may seek out less costly alternatives, perhaps unregulated care, and this may end up jeopardizing both the health and the safety of their children. The economic downturn makes it more important than ever that ways are found to provide more affordable, high-quality child care for the children of working parents.