Costs For Parents
And just as child care providers and centres have to struggle, child care fees are also a major burden to working parents. On average, parents spend $4,000 to $6,000 per year on child care for one child, and in some cities the cost is as high as $10,000, notes the Children's Defense Fund in their publication, The High Cost of Child Care Puts Quality Care Out of Reach for Many Families. "Given the high costs of child care," the CDF says, "parents can easily spend more in a year on child care than they would on public college tuition." In fact, the costs in some cities for a four year old to attend child care is twice what it costs for college tuition.
Costs Go Up
As governments across North America scale back their subsidy programs while increasing back to work legislation for welfare recipients, families facing high child care costs have few places to turn for assistance. Even where families meet the income guidelines for support, the amount of subsidy available often leave them little choice, after limiting their budget in other places, but to choose lower end child care and placing their child(ren) at risk. The result is often detrimental to the parent's work abilities as well. Where child care is inadequate, parent's are less productive on the job, need to take take time off to deal with child care issues, or have to quit work all together when their child care arrangements fall apart.
"Neither parents nor child care providers can solve the challenge of high child care costs on their own," concludes the CDF. "The federal government, states, local communities, and the private sector must all play a larger role in helping families afford quality child care."
If there is a positive note to be made of the costs of child care, it is that despite the low wages, caregivers are dedicated to the children they serve. Most believe they can make a difference, that they can greatly enhance the quality of a child's life in daycare. One would be hard-pressed to put a price tag on that.