The average cost of raising children in the United States of America is, unfortunately, extremely high and continues to rise. Recent estimates have shown that the total cost of raising a child from birth to age 18 can cost as much as a quarter of a million dollars—and that’s before even considering the expense of college tuition.
One of the highest expenses one can “look forward to” is child care plans. According to the Center for American Progress, the national average for center-based child care is $1230 per month, which means the average annual cost to families is a whopping $14,760. Using a family child care home option is slightly cheaper at an average of $800, but this is by no means affordable, and in many states the costs are much higher than the national average. Americans are spending an ridiculous amount of money to have their young children looked after. This is due to people not having the necessary recourse such as a stay-at-home parent or a relative to act as a caregiver. Daycare has become the most common child care option for single parents or for families with two working parents that need full-time child care. The costs become a regular expense, often equivalent to or even higher than a monthly mortgage or rent payment. While every city is different when it comes to cost and affordability, on average, Americans are spending huge portions of their annual income on day care.
The Economic Policy Institute offers a tool on their website that allows users to select each of the fifty states to see the average annual cost of infant care as well as child care for a 4-year-old. The site also notes that according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, quality child care should cost no more than 7 percent of a family’s income. This is a pipe dream for most families. In Alaska, for example, infant child care for one baby costs 16.9 percent of a median family’s income. In Georgia, it’s 15.5 percent; in Colorado it’s 21 percent, while Illinois clocks in at 20.1 percent. Feel free to enter your own state, but be sure to prepare for the sticker shock.
Business Broker Network, an online marketplace for business up for sale, created a map showing the average cost of child care in every state. Which state is the highest? None other than Washington, DC, where parents are spending from $2,982 per month or an annual cost of $35,782 per year! Yes, you read that right, per year! Next up on the highest list is Massachusetts, where the cost is $2,452 monthly, or $29,426 annually. New York comes in third at $2,009 monthly or $24,102 annually. Which states have the lowest child care costs? Kentucky, Arkansas, South Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.
What does this mean? Well, working families can expect to spend over $1,000 per month, depending on their location. Kids are expensive! If you don’t believe us, check out the map below showing the monthly costs for infant care and toddlers in the U.S. Each comparison shows each state’s annual child care cost as a percentage for one median income. Once again, we see that the District of Columbia and Massachusetts are the most expensive states, with over a quarter of the average household income needed to cover the high cost of child care.
What about the cost of rent vs. child care?
When compared to the average rent price for a two bedroom apparent, only five states (Mississippi, Hawaii, Louisiana, California, and South Carolina) has affordable child care for a toddler or an infant that is less expensive than the cost of rent. The highest is Wisconsin, where child care can cost almost twice as much as rent!
These numbers are definitely not meant to scare anyone starting a family, but there should definitely be a financial plan to help out the situation. For some, home-based child care providers may be more convenient as well as less expensive than child care centers or formal child care programs. For example, in Minnesota it is 71 percent more expensive to send a child to a ”formal day care center” than it is to find a home-based alternative.
As we said, children can be expensive, especially if child care plays a big part in your cost of living. However, parents everywhere can always name many reasons as to why finances aren’t a primary worry when it comes to starting a family. Sometimes, the love they get from their children is worth more than the cost. Our best advice is to track your finances and enjoy your children as much as you can!
This article was originally published on July 9, 2018.