Thursday, September 6, 2012

Price of child care in Washington--and nation--is still high

Washington families continue to pay twice as much for child care as they do for college tuition, according to a new report from Child Care Aware of America on national trends in the cost of child care. The report also finds that nationally, many families are moving their children from care regulated to ensure health and safety standards, to unlicensed care to save money.

The 2012 report, called Parents and the High Cost of Child Care, is published annually and reflects what families around the country pay for full-time child care in child care centers and in family homes child care settings. It measures average rates for infants, 4-year-olds and school-age children.
Washington ranked 12th in the nation—tied with Michigan—for least affordable child care for an infant in a center. Infants care is typically the most expensive than care for preschool or school-age children. Washington families with two parents’ income pay an average of 13.2 percent of their median income on infant child care in a center. Single mothers, meanwhile, pay 42.4 percent of their median income for that type of care. Those percentages drop to 10 percent and 32.2 percent respecitvely for a 4-year-old’s center-based care; and 5.6 percent and 18.2 percent respectively for school-age center-based care. Infant care in a child care center costs 15 percent more per child than tuition and fees at a public college.

Washington’s average annual rates for child care:
Child care centers
  • Infant: $10,920
  • 4-year-old: $8,320
  • School-age: $4,680
 Family home child care:
  • Infant: $8,424
  • 4-year-old: $7,020
  • School-age: $3,661
Washington household costs for comparison
  • Average annual rent payments: $10,848
  •  Average annual mortgage payments: $21,240
  •  Average annual public college tuition and fees: $9,484
Child Care Aware is the national organization for more than 600 state and local child care resource and referral networks, which help parents find child care. DEL partners with Child Care Aware Washington—the state branch of the national organization—to help families find the right child care arrangement for their children. We also partner with Child Care Aware Washington to support child care providers in improving quality through Early Achievers, Washington’s quality rating and improvement system.
Some national highlights from the 2012 report:
  • In 40 states and the District of Columbia, the average annual cost of center-based care for an infant exceeded 10 percent of the median income for a two-parent family. That was also true for the cost of a 4-year-old’s care in 22 states and DC.
  • In 35 states and in DC, the average annual cost for an infant in a child care center was higher than a year’s tuition and fees at a four-year public college. That was also true of the cost for a 4-year-old’s care in 19 states and DC.
Breakdown by state for center-based care:
  • Most expensive state for infant care: New York, $14,009
  • Least expensive state for infant care: Mississippi, $4,591
Child Care Aware agencies around the nation report that parents are removing their children from licensed child care settings to informal child care settings because of cost. While unlicensed settings may cost less, they are also of unknown quality and do not receive checks for basic health and safety standards that licensed child care facilities are subject to.
The report makes recommendations to the federal government to:
  • Define minimally acceptable quality child care for families
  • Study the real cost of quality care and to offer recommendations to Congress for financing to support quality options for parents.
  • Add safety requirements to federal funding (Child Care Development Block Grant) that improve the quality of care through requiring background checks for people who care for children; training requirements; regular inspections of facilities; investing in resource and referral agencies so they can assist providers in meeting licensing standards and help families find quality care.
  • Expand the availability of quality care in low-income areas and areas with a shortage of licensed care.
  • Reduce barriers that prevent families from accessing child care assistance.
View the report: Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2012
Learn more about child care and child care assistance on DEL’s website.

1 comment:

kathy yasi said...

Child care is expensive! I am a child care provider and I can point to many state regulations that cost me money and do not do much to protect the health or safety of the children in my care. I wish we could purchase books, office supplies, eductional activities and first aid supplies through a bulk discount system with our state.