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New Data Confirms American Parents Are on Their Own When It Comes to Child Care

Other rich nations spend tens of thousands of dollars per child every year, while the United States spends $500.

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It’s no secret that the United States government offers little to no assistance to parents when it comes to child care but newly released data reveals just how far behind America is compared to the rest of the world.

The New York Times shared figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and Elizabeth Davis and Aaron Sojourner for the Hamilton Project which shows how much a country spends annually on child care per kid and, unsurprisingly, America was not near the top of the list. While countries like Norway ($29,726), Iceland ($24,427), and Finland ($23,353) provide generous financial support to parents through subsidized child care, the United States only provides $500 annually per child.

“We as a society, with public funding, spend so much less on children before kindergarten than once they reach kindergarten,” explained economist Elizabeth Davis, who studies child care at the University of Minnesota. “And yet the science of child development shows how very important investment in the youngest ages are, and we get societal benefits from those investments.”

These already troubling numbers could get even worse, as Congress is currently negotiating a spending bill which many believe will face significant cuts before it gets any real traction. The proposed bill as it stands now would allow the lowest-earning families to send their kids to licensed child care for free, as well as providing universal public preschool for children ages 3 and 4 and raising the pay of child care workers and preschool teachers to match what elementary school teachers are making.

But even if the bill is passed with the child care plan unscathed, the United States would still be sorely lacking when it comes to providing quality and affordable child care for parents. And with the majority of American parents acknowledging that child care issues have hurt their careers, it’s a problem that needs to be solved sooner rather than later.