Child Care May Cost You More Than College

2014 report explores the problem of high child care costs in America


If you are struggling with the high cost of child care, you are not alone. The 2014 Child Care Aware report came out last week and the information is downright depressing. Child Care Aware stated that in 30 states the annual cost of child care is higher than tuition and fees at the state's four-year state colleges. So, should we stop saving for college and start saving for child care on the wedding night?


Child Care Aware's report "Parents and the High Cost of Child Care" states that almost 11 million kids under 5 years old go to daycare in America each week. Child care costs are soaring, putting a huge strain on parents in America. The 2014 report explores the effect of high costs on families’ child care options. The report stated that for many families the cost of child care often exceeds the cost of housing, college tuition, transportation or food. For those families with two kids, child care costs in 23 states and Washington D.C. is greater than the average housing costs for homeowners with a mortgage.

Child care is expensive everywhere, but varies by state, depending on labor costs and costs of living.  expense on your budget. When the costs were compared to median income for a married couple, New York topped the list for least-affordable center-based care for infant care at 16% of income; four-year-olds at 13% of income and before/after school care for school-aged kids at 12% of income.

The 10 least-affordable states for full-time center-based infant care are:

  1. New York
  2. Colorado
  3. Oregon
  4. Minnesota
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Washington
  7. Illinois
  8. Nevada
  9. California
  10. Kansas

The 10 least-affordable states for full-time center-based care for a 4-year-old are:

  1. New York
  2. Vermont
  3. Oregon
  4. Nevada
  5. Minnesota
  6. Colorado
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Massachusetts
  1. Rhode Island
  2. Maine

*The rankings are based on the cost of child care as a percentage of the state median income for a two-parent family.*

The report stresses the need for quality child care, stating that children attending these programs do better in school, are more likely to attend college, are more likely to get a better paying job and stay out of the criminal justice system. Exposure to quality learning environments during the earliest and most fundamental years of brain development is vital to our children's future. 

“Quality, affordable child care provides critical support to our nation’s workforce and is one of the earliest learning settings our children will enter,” said Lynette Fraga, Ph.D., executive director of Child Care Aware® of America. “It’s time to address the disparity between high care costs and low provider wages, and find a solution to what has become a crisis.”

So what can parents do about the high cost of child care today?

There are some government programs to help with child care costs, but as the report states, these programs need improvement. In the meantime, parents and businesses can take advantage of tax credits for supporting child care, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, and Dependent Care Assistance Programs.

The amount of benefits available varies by state and the family’s income. Low-income families can receive child care subsidy dollars thru the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014. 

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