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Cost and Availability of Child Care Continues to Burden American Families

Arlington, VA, December 8, 2015 – The 2015 Parents and the High Cost of Child Care report released today by Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) shows a continued trend of child care costs that put a strain on families, rivaling what the average family pays for one year of college tuition at a four year institution.  Further, the cost of full-time, center-based care for two children is the highest single household expense in most parts of the country.

While families continue to struggle with child care costs and finding affordable, quality care solutions, U.S. businesses also pay the price for employee absenteeism due to child care breakdowns, losing approximately $4.4 billion in 2014.

The latest report finds that the average child care can cost as much as $17,062 annually for an infant, or $12,781 annually for a four-year-old. The cost of child care is especially difficult for families living at or below the federal poverty level. For these families, full-time, center-based care for an infant ranges from 24 percent of family income in Mississippi, to 85 percent of family income in Massachusetts. For single parents the costs can be overwhelming — in every state annual costs of center-based infant care averaged over 40 percent of the state median income for single mothers.

Child care providers with strong professional preparation are essential to providing a high-quality early learning program, and the quality of adult-child interactions is one of the most powerful predictors of children’s development and learning. However, in every state, child care workers would need to spend nearly 50 percent of their income in order to afford child care for their own children. In 6 states plus Washington, D.C., over 100 percent of the median child care worker’s income is required to put two children in center-based care.

The 2015 Parents and High Cost of Child Care report took a look at five urban counties for the cost of care for infants and four-year-olds. The study found that these areas had higher costs for child care than the statewide average.

“Quality, affordable child care is one of the most important investments we can make,” said Child Care Aware® of America Executive Director, Lynette Fraga, Ph.D. “Investments made when children are very young will generate returns that accrue over a child’s entire life,” she continued. “Research has shown that high-quality early childhood programs contribute to stronger families, greater economic development, and more-livable communities. Child care is a workforce support and an early learning program, and we need to ensure quality, affordable, accessible child care is a reality for all working families.”

Child Care Aware® of America, the nation’s leading voice for child care, advocates for a quality, safe child care system that supports families’ education and overall economic advancement. With the release of the 2015 Parents and the High Cost of Child Care report, CCAoA recommends three areas to work on as a country to improve the child care system:

  • empower providers with a living wage and affordable professional development opportunities;
  • help families make good child care decisions with reliable and accessible information; and
  • create a seamless, affordable child care system that works for families, which will require an investment from businesses, families, and state and local governments.

Copies of the 2015 Parents and High Cost of Child Care may be downloaded at http://usa.childcareaware.org/costofcare.

This year’s report also includes an interactive map that allows users to quickly access a variety of cost data for each state. Find out child care costs in your state here: http://usa.childcareaware.org/costofcare.

Follow the conversation on Twitter: @USAChildCare #CostofCare

About Child Care Aware® of America
Child Care Aware® of America is our nation’s leading voice for child care. CCAoA works with state and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&Rs) and other community partners to ensure that all families have access to quality, affordable child care. CCAoA leads projects that increase the quality and availability of child care, offer comprehensive training to child care professionals, undertake research, and advocate for child care policies that improve the lives of children and families. To learn more, visit usa.childcareaware.org. Follow them on Twitter @USAChildCare and on Facebook at facebook.com/usachildcare.

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