While many of us had our eyes on college costs, we may have missed the fact that child care costs have continued to rise across the nation, exceeding the costs of tuition for college in some states.
According to a new report by CNN, “average center-based child care costs rose by nearly 3% nationwide, according to a report from the nonprofit Child Care Aware of America. Full-time care for an infant ranged from a high of $16,430 a year in Massachusetts to $4,863 in Mississippi.”
Why the increase in child care costs?
Although the reasons vary by region, the report indicates it could be due to increased housing, food, utility, and labor costs. Another reason is the increase in state regulations.
According to CNN, the cost in the Northeast continues to rise, especially in states such as Massachusetts, because of strict teacher/student rations. For example, in Massachusetts childcare facilities must have one teacher for every three infants, versus one in five which is more prevalent in other states. Other states such as New York obviously have much higher rents, especially in urban areas.
Child care facilities are also faced with the costs that other families have such as increased food costs, rising insurance rates and operational costs.
Child care costs outpace income
The downside for all families is that the costs for child care seem to be outpacing the increase in wages. According to reports, the cost of child care grew “by as much as eight times the rate of family incomes last year,” leaving families scrambling to either cut their budget in other areas or find new methods to generate income.
With the increase in child care costs it’s not surprising that child care costs encompass a large chunk of the family budget. For instance, in states such as Oregon, which was deemed the “least affordable” state for child care, the study indicates that caring for in infant may costs more than 18% of the median income for a married couple.
In fact, the numbers are startling. According to one couple who resides in Denver, Colorado, their child care costs for their two children costs up to $1,400 a month. It’s not surprising that other couples would also feel the pinch, arguing that this is a “huge portion” of their total monthly income.
What can a couple do to pay for child care costs?
Options vary for families. Some families simply have to make difficult choices. This can include reviewing whether having both parents employed full-time is beneficial for the family. It also may mean driving one car, eating out less, shopping at thrift stores and trimming all the family “extras.”
Unfortunately, other families will cut costs in the quality of care for their child and may have to resort to what some experts call “cheaper non-licensed options.” Although there may be some child care options that are unregulated which may be safe, it’s generally believed the best choice for all children is to be placed in an environment which meets an adequate level of health and safety standards.
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