2010-08-13 / Top Stories

Study: Child Care Costs Continue To Rise

According to a report released by the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) entitled, “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2010 Update,” parents who choose child care in a center or a family child care home must pay a significant part of their income for this care. Low- and middle-income parents have limited access to affordable, quality care.

The report provides average costs of child care for infants, 4-year-olds, and school-age children in centers and family child care homes in every state. The average cost that parents paid for full-time care for a 4-year-old child in a center ranged from more than $4,050 in Mississippi to more than $13,150 a year in Massachusetts. The average center-based child care fees for an infant exceeded the average annual amount that families spent on food in every region of the United States. Monthly child care fees for two children at any age exceeded the median monthly rent cost, and were nearly as high, or even higher than, the average monthly mortgage payment in every state. “The cost of quality child care is out of reach for too many families,” said Linda Smith, executive director of NACCRRA. “It is unimaginable that the cost of infant care in a child care center is more than the cost of college in 40 states. It’s time to increase our public investment in improving the quality of child care for all families.”

Today, more than 11 million children under age 5 are in some type of child care arrangement every week. On average, children of working mothers spend 36 hours a week in child care. Studies repeatedly have shown that high-quality child care – care that provides a loving, safe, stable and ageappropriate stimulating environment – helps children enter school ready to learn. Unfortunately, the high cost of child care limits parents’ options when it comes to choosing child care.

“As a result of increasing child care costs and the current economy, some parents have been forced to remove their children from organized child care programs or licensed settings and place them in more informal settings,” said Smith. “This potentially means that the provider has not had a background check or training in health and safety practices or early childhood development, let alone training to provide age-appropriate activities. I am concerned that as a nation with school readiness as a national goal, there will be long-term implications for the next generation with regard to school success and future success.”

“The bottom line is that you get what you pay for,” said Smith. “And today’s economy only makes it that much harder for parents who are already struggling with the current cost of child care to afford the quality child care their children need and deserve.” To im-prove access to affordable, highquality child care for all families, NACCRRA is calling on Congress to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the primary public source of child care funds to states, to help pay for child care and improve the quality of care. Additionally, NACCRRA recommends providing resources for planning and developing child care capacity to increase the availability of child care options for working families; reducing barriers in the subsidy administration process that prevent families from accessing assistance; ensuring that public prekindergarten programs are designed to meet the child care needs of working families; and improving federal and state tax codes to help families at all income levels pay for care. “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2010 Update” provides results from a 2009 survey of Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) State Networks. The survey asked for the average costs charged by child care programs listed in CCR&R databases. Located in every state and most communities across the nation, CCR&Rs provide services in 99 percent of inhabited ZIP codes. CCR&Rs work with parents to connect them with the child care that meets their needs and with child care providers to help raise the quality of child care in their communities.

To download a full copy of the report, visit www.naccrra.org. Accor-ding to an agency spokesperson, NACCRRA is the nation’s leading voice for child care. They work with more than 700 state and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies nationwide. These agencies help ensure that families in 99 percent of all populated ZIP codes in the United States have access to high-quality, affordable child care. To achieve its mission, they lead projects that increase the quality and availability of child care, undertake research, and advocate child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families. To learn more about NACCRRA and how to participate in ensuring access to high-quality child care for all families, the spokesperson continues, visit www.naccrra.org.

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