Report: Child Care Is “Unaffordable” Nationwide, Especially for Single Parents

The 2017 report Parents and the High Cost of Child Care from the advocacy group Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA) illustrates the high cost burden faced by working parents across the United States.

A stark takeaway from the organization’s annual report is that across the country, the average cost of a year of child care is more than the average annual amount families spend on food and transportation combined. In more than half of states nationwide, the cost to keep an infant in center-based care is on par with the cost of attending a four-year public university.

The report indicates that child care is unaffordable in every state in the nation and the District of Colombia, based on the 2016 standard set by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that child care should cost no more than 7 percent of a household’s budget.

According to CCAoA, married couples spend more than 10 percent of household income on child care annually. Single parents pay more than 27 percent of their income on center-based care. The problem was found to be most acute in Massachusetts, Utah, Oregon, Minnesota, New York, Washington and Hawaii.

CCAoA has illustrated this year’s data in an interactive Cost of Child Care map. Color-coded states give a broad stroke view of regional trends across the country. For each state, you can find detailed data addressing the differences between home-based child care versus center-based child care, income percent comparisons between different groups, and the cost of having one child in care versus two. For some states, the map even allows users to drill down to county level data for an even closer comparison.

Now in its eleventh year, the Cost of Care report is formulated by dividing the average cost of child care in a state against the average income in that state.

The report lays out a handful of recommendations to mitigate the unaffordability of child care. Among these suggestions are increasing federal funding provided to states for child care programs and passing the Working Families Act of 2017, which would significantly expand the number of families eligible for child care assistance and provide affordable child care through the age of 13.

“Congress has a real opportunity, as it weighs tax reform, to provide relief to working families struggling with child care costs,” Fraga said in the press release announcing the 2017 report.

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Sara Tiano, Staff Writer, The Chronicle of Social Change
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