Daycare & Preschool Are Making Us Poor

Living in Boston, Massachusetts, where it costs as much as a college tuition to send one child to full-time daycare or preschool, I am well aware of how preschool and daycare can make you feel poor even when you make plenty of money. In the past year, we have shelled out almost all of my take-home pay on preschool for my two toddlers. 

This year, I am expecting it to be better since my daughter is now in a public pre-K and my son is at a co-op nursery school. But even still, we will still shell out roughly $14,000 this year just sending our one kid to school and on childcare. It may be a vast improvement over last year, but it's still too much money.


In fact, new research shows that I am not alone. In 36 states, it costs more to send your child to day care than to send your child to college. The study says: "The average annual costs for [daycare center]-based care for an infant was higher than a year’s tuition and related fees at a four-year public college.”

Is anyone surprised?

In the past, when I have written on this topic, people have said A.) that I should stay home with my kids, and B.) that we could find more affordable childcare. Since Massachusetts is one of the 10 most expensive states for childcare, I feel justified in saying:

A.) I stayed home for three years and I have a job where I work from home so I see my kids a lot. I went to college and graduate school so I could further my career and that is important to me.


B.) There is no "affordable" option. Even the co-op is $10K a year and that includes a day of work every two weeks, monthly meetings, a parent "job," and countless other duties. Unless you live in a major city, you have no idea how limited (and competitive) the options are.

It's so wrong. I feel very lucky that in my community we have such a quality public pre-K, but even that is by lottery and we were very lucky to get into it. As for whether preschool matters, consider this. A report on NPR last week said that all of the skills we need to be truly successful (not just marginally so), we get in preschool.

These "soft skills" are things like being able to pay attention and focus, being curious and open to new experiences, and being able to control your temper and not get frustrated. Economist James Heckman discovered that you don't get them anywhere but in preschool.

Preschool is important. But it's also expensive. This is completely unacceptable. No one should feel like they need to choose between meals and school for their kids. I am very lucky that my husband has a job that can support us alone because almost every penny I earn from mine goes directly to the schools.

It shouldn't be this way.

Do you ever feel preschool or daycare poor?


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