Child Care

Child Care Cost - How Much is Appropriate

Childcare Costs

The cost of childcare is a hot topic for many parents. We all want the best care for our children, but many parents cannot afford the high prices of associated with that. Childcare costs vary greatly, depending on factors such as where you live, what type of childcare you choose, the age of your child, and how many hours a week you are paying for childcare. 

What Is the Cost of Traditional Daycare?

Traditional Daycare for Babies and Toddlers

The cost of daycare varies by location, quality, and age of children. Childcare for babies and toddlers is more expensive than childcare for older kids because younger kids need more hands-on care, and there must be more childcare providers in each room. The average cost of center-based daycare in the United States is $11,666 per year ($972 a month), but prices range from $3,582 to $18,773 a year ($300 to $1,564 monthly), according to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA).

However, parents in cities like New York and San Francisco report higher costs, as high as $2,000 a month for infant care.

The most expensive cities for daycare are California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Washington, and Wisconsin, with costs over $10,000 a year for baby and toddler daycare.

Traditional Daycare for Preschoolers

Costs for daycare for preschool-age children are generally lower, averaging $8,800 a year ($733 a month). Depending on where you live, you will pay anywhere from $4,460 to $13,185 a year ($371 to $1,100 a month).

The most expensive states for preschool-age kids in a childcare center are Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin, with costs over $8,000 a year ($667 a month).

To find out more about daycare options and costs in your area, contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency.

What Is the Cost of In-Home Care?

In-home Care for Babies and Toddlers

Similar to traditional daycare, costs of in-home daycare depend on the age of your child and where you live. The size of the facility and whether or not it is licensed may also impact cost. Some in-home daycare providers charge very little if they are a friend or neighbor, where others run more like a business and may charge as much as traditional daycare.

The average in-home daycare charges about $7,761 a year ($646 a month) for babies and toddlers. Prices start at $3,582 a year and go up to $11,940 a year ($300 to $995 a month), though costs will likely be higher in large cities.

The most expensive states for home daycare for infants and toddlers are Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Wisconsin, with costs over $8,500 a year ($700 a month).

In-home Care for Preschoolers

For preschool-age children, the average cost for home daycare is $7,627 a year ($636 a month).

Prices range from $3,780 a year to $12,000 a year ($315 to $1,000 a month). The most expensive states for home daycare for preschoolers, with costs over $8,500 a year ($700 a month), beginning with the most expensive, are Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut.

What Is the Cost of a Nanny?

Hiring a full-time nanny for your child may be the most expensive option. Depending on where you live, how many children you have, and what the competition is for qualified candidates, nannies cost anywhere from $500 to $700 a week ($2,167 to $3,033 a month) for full-time care for one child and between about $400 and $650 a week ($1,733 to $2,817 a month) for part-time hours.

Some nannies also get benefits, such as employer paid health insurance, paid holidays, vacation, and sick days.

Keep in mind that when you hire a nanny you become an employer, and the U.S. government expects you to pay your nanny's Social Security taxes.

Cut Costs With a Nanny Share

A nanny share is a childcare arrangement where one nanny cares for the child or children of two or more families at the same time.

A nanny share is an alternative childcare option to daycare or hiring a nanny for one family. You can have a “full” nanny share, which means that one nanny takes care of two families’ kids at the same time without any individualized care (easier to figure out financially, but not always practical). Another option is a “partial” share, when a nanny takes care of two families’ children sometimes individually and sometimes together. 

In a nanny share, the childcare costs are cut because the nanny is sharing time between the children. For example, if you pay a nanny $15 an hour to watch one child, you may pay $11 an hour during share hours. Nanny shares may be full-time or part-time.

What Is the Cost of a Babysitter?

What to pay a babysitter also depends on various factors, such as how many children are being watched; the experience level of the babysitter; if the babysitter is doing additional work; and if the babysitter is being hired for a special occasion, such as holiday or a vacation.

Find out more about babysitter costs.

Should a Relative Watch Your Child?

Many families choose to have relatives as their childcare providers to help with costs and to provide the opportunity to strengthen relationships. However, having a relative babysit your child doesn't necessarily mean there are no costs. Some family members want to be paid as if they are providing in-home childcare. Other members may provide the service for free, but the parent should still be responsible for purchasing all related care items and food.

A Word From Verywell

With so many childcare options, there is sure to be one that is right for your family. Whichever type of childcare you ultimately choose, make sure you are comfortable with the costs. Do your research and figure out your budget before making this very important decision.

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