Daycare Is Now Officially Less Affordable Than College -- and It's Just Getting Worse

child holding a piggy bank

Every parent knows how hard it is to raise a child these days -- including figuring out how to pay for sufficient care. And sadly, it looks like things will only get more expensive, which is a tough blow to so many working families. A new study reveals that childcare now costs more than in-state college tuition. With an estimated 12 million kids ages 5 and under needing sufficient care, we need to do something and fast.

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The United States might be the land of opportunity, but according to this New America Care Report, many moms and dads in this country don't have access to quality and affordable childcare. The Care Index estimates that parents with kids ages 4 and under shell out an average of $9,589 each year for full-time care -- which is higher than the average in-state tuition to attend college (currently $9,410).

This means families who earn a little more than $53,000, the national household median income, spend at least 18 percent (one-fifth) of their income to ensure their child is cared for while they're at work. Parents who struggle to provide for their families on minimum wage spend two-thirds of their income (that's about 64 percent) for adequate childcare -- with adequate being the keyword, seeing as only 11 percent of this country's care facilities are accredited.

Wow.

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Incomprehensible and unacceptable don't even begin to describe how much this enrages me. Sorry, but there's no reason why the national cost of childcare is 85 percent of the median cost of rent. (Just allow that number to settle in your head.)

I have 2- and 1-year-old kids and can only imagine how much it would cost for me to put them in daycare full-time. Just thinking about that -- plus rent/mortgage, car payments, and everyday needs -- makes me cringe. This number has swirled around in my head numerous times and has affected the choices I make, both as a mother and a career woman.

Before having children, I enjoyed a freelancer's life full of uncertainty and the flexibility to stay home. But once I became pregnant with my first child, I knew I needed something more permanent, but was fearful of the price I would have to pay to have such an opportunity. I'm so thankful I'm now able to enjoy a job I love doing and have the ability to work from home full-time (it's certainly no walk in the park, but literally saves my family thousands a month on childcare). Sadly, this is not an option afforded to every parent.

Thinking about fellow parents who aren't afforded the same opportunities to have a more flexible schedule (telecommuting is another topic for another day) -- and who have no choice but to spend so much on childcare -- pains me.

Something has truly got to give as the cost of living is becoming more and more expensive ...

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No mom or dad should ever have to worry about who is taking care of their child. In addition to paid family leave, there's got to be a way to help working parents provide for their children that does not include living paycheck-to-paycheck because the cost of childcare is too high.

If we truly want to "make America great again," we need to give hardworking families a fighting chance to have a fairer shot at accessible childcare -- period.

 

Image via Kim Reinick/Shutterstock

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