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Child Care Aware publishes new report on high cost of child care

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Child Care Aware publishes new report on high cost of child care

A few weeks after the bi-partisan reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Child Care Aware of America has published their annual report on Parents and the High Cost of Child Care, showing the increasing costs of child care in America.  In the recent release of America After 3 PM, the Afterschool Alliance also looked at the issue of costs, with 43 percent of parents citing the high cost of local programs as one of the major reasons for not enrolling their child in an afterschool program.

While the focus of the report is on child care for infants and toddlers, also included is data on the average annual cost of before and after school care for school aged children in each state.  The report compares these costs with the median income for both one parent and two parent households to calculate the proportion of family income going towards child care in comparison to other major expenses like housing and food.  Child Care Aware surveyed Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&Rs) State Network offices to obtain data related to the average cost of care in legally operating child care centers and family child care homes.  CCR&Rs pulled these numbers from the latest Market Rate Surveys and databases maintained by the networks.  Most data is from 2013, and older data from 2012 and 2011 was adjusted to 2013 dollars using the Consumer Price Index.

The report ranks the top 10 least affordable states for before and after school care based on the average costs percentage of the median income for a married couple.  New York came out as the least affordable, where the average annual cost of before and after school care is $11,352 and represents 12.4% of the median income for a married couple.  The District of Columbia had the highest cost overall at $13,211 but a higher median income pushed it further down the ranking of affordability.  Other states ranked in the top 10 include Montana, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Wyoming, West Virginia, Arkansas, Arizona and Kentucky.  In America After 3 PM, the Afterschool Alliance surveyed parents who pay a fee for their child’s after school program and found an average nationwide cost of $113.50 per week.  America After 3PM also found that District of Columbia parents report the highest cost of $237 a week with Illinois coming in as the second most expensive at $159 a week.

Both reports document the high cost barrier that prevents students from gaining access to enriching experiences afterschool.  But what makes the programs so expensive to begin with?  Child Care Aware’s report also focused on what drives up the cost of child care despite the low wages for child care providers.  They specifically discuss that beyond staff costs, programs are paying for facilities, professional development, insurance, food and materials, which all contribute to the cost per child.  Child care and afterschool programs are essential for working families, and more support is needed to help parents, particularly low income parents, afford these programs.  Programs such as 21st Century Community Learning Centers and subsidized afterschool meals can help make afterschool possible for families.

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