Affordable Child Care Affects Everyone

Carlos San Miguel, RESULTS U.S. Poverty Intern
October 11, 2012

Different numbers are always thrown around when it comes to the cost of raising a child. The latest set of numbers used to calculate the cost of raising a child is $295,000 adjusted for future inflation. That is the money an average family would spend on a child from infant to eighteen years old. Infant care is particularly expensive; the median average cost in California is $11,823, and New York’s current cost $14,009 according to Child Care Aware. It’s easy to see how quickly costs add up. Child Care Aware has compiled a list of child care cost based on the year 2011 to demonstrate the need for government assistance in providing affordable child care for families. This is an issue that the Presidential candidates have not addressed in any meaningful way. In the end it’s the hard working class families that are suffering under the burden of high child care costs.

The current 10 least affordable states for infant care based on 2011 figures, are New York, Minnesota, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Indiana and Wisconsin. Throughout the United States there is no federal government or state financing to make child care more affordable. In order for working class families to retain a job they must have safe and reliable child care. Without reliable child they can trust, many families must ask for days off, long vacations, and general missed time from work may result in their termination of employment. In 2011, overall household earnings declined 1 percent while the cost of living rose by 3.2 percent.

How much are families really spending on child care? In 2011 the average family spent 7-16 percent of their total median income on child care related costs. In hard numbers, average infant cares in 19 states including District of Columbia were higher than $10,000 per year. This also means that in 35 states including the District of Columbia, the price of infant care is more than public universities. When a child reaches the age of four, the overall number of states that have a higher median cost of $10,000 goes down from 40 to 22. The expense for two children in child care increases exponentially and exceeds the cost for median rent in every state. This increase in cost is a huge burden for not only two-parent families, but on the single mother surviving on one income.

What programs are out there to assist families? The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) provides help to 1.6 million children, but only 1 out of 6 children who are eligible for assistance are served. In addition to the CCDBG, the government backed programs such as Head Start and Early Head Start continually fight for funding and sorely need additional funding to meet the needs of our working class families. It is crucial that we talk to our Congressional representatives and urge them to support child care programs and funding. Our success as a nation hinges on how we take care of the generations of children that are still to come.

Please review Child care Aware of America 2012 report, and help make child care important in this year’s Presidential election. And, help us Put Child Care on the Map to ensure every member of Congress hears about child care this year.