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Day Care Costs More Than College?

Federal guidelines recommend that families spend no more than 10% of their income on child care expenses.  But in the real world, many spend two and three times that amount because they simply have no choice.  And while quality child care is expensive no matter where you live, in some states it now costs more to send your kid to day care than it does to send your kid to college.

A report released today by the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) finds that in 39 states and Washington, DC, the average annual cost of childcare for an infant has skyrocketed to the point where it now exceeds that of a year’s tuition and fees at a four-year public college.

What’s more, in every region in the U.S., the average center-based child care fees for an infant exceed the average annual amount that families spend on food. And in 24 states, families spend more on center-based child care fees than they do on rent.

The numbers in this report are based on 2009 data gathered in January of this year.  But with day care centers feeling the pinch as more and more out-of-work parents keep their kids at home, one could reasonably expect that the costs will go even higher.

Regardless of how you feel about working moms and day care in general, it is a fact of life for many families. But how can parents go to work in order to provide for their families if they can’t afford quality child care for their kids?  In short, they can’t.

Image: iStockphoto.com/FotoShoot

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