You Don't Spend Enough on Child Care


day care costsBefore we had kids, I never gave a thought to how much it costs for someone to care for your child when you had to do things like work. Going out at night, yes, I knew what an hourly sitter cost (these are the things a child-free person obsesses over), but I had no idea how much money we would be shelling out just so my baby would be cared for while I went to the office.

It turns out, in my Brooklyn neighborhood anyway, that a full-time nanny would cost our family over $26,000 a year. Day care was cheaper, and we got away with $13,000 a year. Still a good amount of money for one child, and once we had two children, we knew it was time to move to a less expensive city.

Although we pay less in California, child care still takes a massive bite out of our budget. While I may be going broke covering pre-school and day care, the price of child care is still not nearly high enough.

The people who take care of my children, and have taken care of my children in the past, deserve much more. When I've worked full-time, they have spent more of the week with the most precious people in my life than I have. These women (it's always been women) have loved my children, taught them new languages, taken them out to the park when I would have pleaded, "It's too cold!" and made sure they were safe no matter what. That's worth a lot more than the highest I ever paid -- $26,000 a year.

Yet, most middle-class parents go through a poverty spell when children arrive. Mostly due to the high cost of child care. We certainly did, and it's a tough spot to be in, even though our combined salaries were much greater than the barely living wage of a nanny.

It's something we've struggled with since our first child was born. Our need to keep our heads above water, while feeling like whatever our caregivers are being paid -- it's never enough. But it's more than we can afford.

I don't know a simple solution to early child care costs for those that aren't wealthy. I also don't know how to convince society-at-large that people taking care of our most vulnerable citizens -- be it child care workers, nurses, teachers, police, or firefighters -- deserve to make more money. Care-taking has never been valued much in our particular society, and I can't help but wonder why.

Do you think your child's caregiver is paid enough?


Image via shellorz/Flickr

child care, learning, nursery school


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Nope! my child is in a part time preschool program and I'm on the board, so I know what the teachers make--- they deserve 3 times the amount!,

nonmember avatar Anon

So pay them what they are worth. I live in a pretty low-cost Midwest area, but I paid my nanny $40K (for caring for 2 kids). I also helped her to arrange for a good, affordable health care plan. Now my kids are in preschool/daycare, and the tuition is about $20K/yr for both, but they are in a class of 12 (one teacher), so the total being paid for that class of kids is $240,000. I'm thinking that even with support staff and management, there's enough for the teacher to make a reasonable salary.

angev... angevil53

i care for my child, so i deserve what i get out of it. i have never paid more than 60 bucks a week for child care. he's only been to two other sitter's besides my "extended" family sitter's and it's always been pretty great. they love the kids and appreciate the little bit of money coming their way. unfortunately i wouldn't have been able to provide much more bc my wage was a few bucks above minimum wage but not low enough to receive ANY help with child care. i was stuck between a rock and a hard place with income. it really sucks being lower-middle class sometimes.

nonmember avatar Anon

Oops, checking my math, the total tuition in my kids' class is $120,000. Still enough to squeeze out a decent salary plus overheads.

mellypoo mellypoo

i agree, on both counts: it's expensive and they deserve more (as do teachers, firefighters, police officers: more money, more benefits, more training). unfortunately, people will continue having babies they can't afford and the result is a high demand for poorly paid caregivers. there is no sense of consequence in modern day procreation.

Memph... MemphisSuzi

I find it appalling what these care givers get paid!  And more apalling how much the daycare centers are keeping in their own pockets!  We pay $160/wk for our son.  There are 20 kids in his class.  The daycare makes $3200 a week.  There are 3 teachers who make $7/hour -- so they pay out only $840 --pocketing $2360 a week!  For ONE classroom.  I always am generous with Christmas gifts and birthday cards but that is all we can afford.  I think the centers need to pay these workers what they deserve! 

Memph... MemphisSuzi

And @ Anon if you come back to read this -- I would LOVE to pay them $40,000 a year but since I only make 35,000 thats impossible.  This article is about people in the middle who arent rich and just cant afford things like that...nice of you though. :)


kjbug... kjbugsmom1517

I care for my kids with an occasional night out sitter, there is no way we would pay what my husband makes in a year for daycare. At that point its pointless to have dual incomes.

mellypoo mellypoo

memphissuzi, i know it seems frustrating, but the costs of maintaining a childcare center are pretty high. not just supplies, facilities and food but liability insurance, continuing education for teachers, administrative costs (like teacher health care or the utilities bill).  this is where the puzzle loses a few pieces and you can't make a perfect picture. it's hard to charge parents enough to keep it going and bridge that gap of teacher pay because most parents are looking for cheaper options and the cycle perpetuates..... or gets worse.

Heather Swagga

People don't even want to pay minimum wage for their babysitters. While everyone on here will say "Oh, they deserve more money" or "They're worth so much more", there are a million other people out there who don't want to pay decent, reasonable prices for childcare of any kind. Sure they'll say, "Oh I wish I could" (even when they very clearly CAN, but what I've learned is that people who say that almost immediately mentally follow it with "but not from me, because I don't want to pay any more than I already am. Actually I want to pay less".

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