Apparently parents’ complaints about the high cost of childcare are warranted after all, thanks to findings from a Child Care Aware report that says it’s unaffordable in 49 of the 50 U.S. states.
Seems we aren’t exaggerating when we say that the majority of our paycheck goes toward paying for quality care for our kids. The high cost has parents, like myself, constantly considering ways to ensure our children are receiving the best care but at a reasonable cost. For my husband and I, we have been fortunate to employ a mix of home-based childcare from my mom, and part-time public care through our local school district.
According to the Child Care Aware report, parents residing in Colorado and New York spend more than $14,000 a year on infant care, while California, Hawaii, and Illinois residents fork over more than $13,000 a year. And Massachusetts parents can expect to pay more than $17,000 annually in childcare costs for their infants. Wow! These costs are anything but affordable. In fact, center-based infant care surpassed 7% of a family’s income in 49 states, which is the cutoff for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ percentage for affordability, as reported by Fortune.
I know that the more I compared the costs of childcare centers that were near my job in Los Angeles, the closer I inched toward considering leaving my job. If we stayed in an apartment instead of buying a house, we could live off one salary — with a lot of cutbacks. The choices weren’t great.
And either are the situations for so many families in the U.S., as only Louisiana has found a way to keep the cost down — spending about $5,754 a year on infant care (6.7% of a married family’s income). According to New York Magazine, they provide a refundable tax credit to families with incomes less than $25,000 who enroll their children at high-quality facilities.
Something sure needs to happen for the rest of the states. I am fortunate to be in a situation where I do not have to rely on quality childcare facilities full-time, but I understand the disadvantage of not having access to affordable care. Parents are often placed in a position where they have to decide whether to work to pay for their living expenses or stay home because their entire paycheck will go towards childcare.
There needs to be major reforms to the childcare policy to put an end to this all. Perhaps looking at Louisiana’s approach will help solve this parenting struggle.