Child care has become a challenge for most American families, Care.com’s 10th annual Cost of Care Report reveals. The survey asked 3,000 adults with children under 14 how much they paid for professional childcare.
“If we have learned anything in the past ten years, almost every family faces at least one major challenge in child care: it may be cost, availability, accessibility, or even a combination of those three. The struggles are different for families across the country, but there are commonalities,” Natalie Mayslich, president of consumer affairs at Care.com, told Yahoo Lifestyle.
The survey shows how the three areas affect parents. These are some of the main conclusions.
Childcare is out of reach for most parents
- Families nationwide spend approximately 27% of their income on childcare costs.
- 45% of families earning less than $100,000 spend more than 18% ($18,000) of their annual income on child care.
- 43% of families earning less than $75,000 spend more than 24% ($18,000) of their annual income on child care.
- 39% of families earning less than $50,000 use more than 36% ($18,000) of their annual income to pay for child care.
- The most expensive state in all child care categories (babysitter, daycare, and nanny costs) in Washington, DC
- The cheapest states in terms of childcare are Mississippi (nannies), Arkansas (daycare), and West Virginia (babysitters).
All those numbers are more than the 7% of family income that the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says is considered affordable for childcare costs.
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In general, parents spend a lot of money on thare of their children. “Child care has become unaffordable for most American families. Working parents spend more than 20% of family income on child care. These numbers are even more shocking when they refer to in single-parent households and hourly workers compared to salaried workers. “This is something we need to talk about because, as we know, without services, the parents can’t work at all,” Mayslich said.
Childcare costs are rising
- The weekly cost of a babysitter ($736) has increased by 56% since 2013 ($472).
- The weekly cost of daycare ($284) has increased by 53% since 2013 ($186).
- The weekly cost of daycare ($229) has increased by 80% since 2013 ($127).
- The weekly cost of a caregiver ($179) has increased by 92% since 2013 ($93).
That increase is due to a combination of higher childcare rates and inflation, as well as the fact that remote and hybrid work is changing the type of care that parents need. “Parents need personal att. Although adapts to the work and lifestyle that families have today. Daycares used to be the primary childcare option, but now we see an equal number of familieswere turning to nan,nies. This change makes sense because, although they continue to be an important part of the care landscape, they were not reliable options in the past years, because they had long lists of waiting, less accessible and with strict schedules that represent a challenge for parents. Mayslich noticed.
Parents Spend More While on Daycare Waiting Lists
- 64% of parents said they are on childcare waiting lists.
- 49% had to wait more than three months before a place was available.
- 25% of parents living in rural areas wait more than a year for a place, an expensive wait. Most parents hire a babysitter or ask for help from a family member, which costs an additional $200 to $300 per week.
Although more than 70% of parents include childcare costs in their budget, they believe that their estimates are not enough. 20% think they will exceed that budget by the end of the year.
Single mothers are the most likely group to be on waiting lists and 54% have to bear additional costs while waiting for a childcare place. Single parents are more likely to have to adjust their work schedule and the time they work to pay for or spend on childcare. 30% of hourly single mothers reported that they had a second job and 29% indicated that they took on multiple jobs. 27% of single parents report that their work hours are decreasing while 25% report working more jobs.
Access to child care is complex
- 30% of parents say it’s more difficult to find childcare than last year.
- An estimated 75% of parents have less than six childcare centers within Families from their home.
This leaves many parents (42%) dependent on family assistance. In addition to the lack of access, parents also need more flexible childcare options at non-traditional times.
In fact, families are making big changes to access child care. Almost all parents surveyed (90%) reported making one of the following changes: finding cheaper services (31%), relying on help from family or friends (27%), moving closer to family ( 20%) and having multiple jobs (19%).
While Care.com’s Cost of Care Report shows an alarming increase in child care costs and a decrease in affordability, it offers six strategies for parents to save: find services that fit your budget, discuss the benefits of work-life balance with your employer, set aside a pre-tax amount to pay for childcare, use tax credits and exemptions, -investigate child care subsidies and programs, and promote social changes including universal preschool care, expanding tax credits and a four-day work week.