The Economic Policy Institute has a study by Elise Gould and Tanyell Cooke about the high cost of quality child care. Any parent can tell you the tale.
The high cost of child care has received attention from an array of policymakers. For example, in his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama cited child care affordability as a key to helping middle-class families feel more secure in a world of constant change (White House 2015). New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recognized similar concerns and released an interagency implementation plan for free, high-quality, full-day universal prekindergarten (NYC 2014). High quality, dependable, and affordable child care for children of all ages is more important than ever, especially since having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families.
Key findings include the fact that child care costs account for a significant portion of family budgets and is particularly unaffordable for minimum-wage workers.
As policymakers look for ways to improve living standards for the vast majority of Americans who have endured decades of stagnant wages, increasing child care affordability is an excellent place to start. Child care costs constitute a large portion of the income families need in order to achieve a modest yet adequate standard of living—and are particularly onerous for workers paid the minimum wage. Measuring child care costs against a variety of benchmarks—including the cost of college tuition, the HHS’s 10 percent affordability threshold, and median family incomes—demonstrates that high quality child care is out of reach for working families.
Every week in the United States, nearly 11 million children younger than age 5 are in some type of child care arrangement. On average, these children spend 36 hours a week in child care, with costs ranging upwards of $500 a month for an infant (CCAA 2014). As child care consumes a larger proportion of family budgets, funding high-quality child care services should be a paramount concern for governments, business leaders, and families alike.
It is a long study, so you can get the sense of it from Bloomberg’s coverage of the report, “Childcare Costs Even More Than Rent in Most of the U.S.”
“Parents of an infant are going to be, on average, younger than the parents of a college kid so they’re going to be earlier in their careers and it’s going to be even harder for them to make these kinds of payments,” said Elise Gould, EPI senior economist and co-author of the report. “It’s not surprising that many women drop out of the labor force, so there are costs to this.”