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New Study Finds Parents Are Paying More Than Ever for Child Care

Higher costs are only resulting in more families that can't pay for it.

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According to a new study by Care.com, the cost of childcare has risen even higher for the fifth year in a row. With the rising cost comes a rising percentage of income that needs to be used on it. This has left about 20 percent of US families using at least 25 percent of their income on childcare, along with 33 percent spending at least 20 percent and 71 percent spending at least 10 percent. This would mean that at least 71 percent of families are paying more than the seven percent of household income that the Department of Health and Human Services defines as affordable childcare.

In places where child care is expensive like Washington DC ($2,982 a month) families are more likely to spend 26 percent of their annual income on child care. Families in cheaper states like Mississippi ($665 a month) still spend 12 percent of their income on childcare.  Even more striking is the fact that when income disparity is factored into the equation it’s evident that poor families are most devastated by the rising costs. For example, the bottom fifth of DC households had just two percent of total DC income in 2016, while the top fifth had a staggering 56 percent.

In an interview with Moneyish, Dominique Baillet, the senior editorial director for Care.com, said that many parents are still actually surprised the high cost of child care when compared to other things linked to having kids. As it turns out daycare, the place with all the learning socialization tools and a whole team of people costs an average of $211 per week compared to having a single nanny which costs $580 a week on average.

The cost of raising a child is already something in the ballpark of $230,000, and what’s worse is that 60 percent of the 1,000 respondents to the Care.com survey have noted that their childcare costs have increased in the last year. This has forced them to start making sacrifices in other areas of their home life. It’s no small fraction of the population that has to deal with the rising cost of childcare either. Almost 33 percent of children under five-years-old are cared for by non-relatives.

Ultimately childcare is just too important to not be accessible to anyone. A study by economist and Nobel laureate James J. Heckman found that access to free early child care results in better outcomes for both disadvantaged mothers and their children. Beyond that, it’s also been found to increase a mother’s salary on average. But no one will reap those benefits if the costs continue to rise.