Child Day Care Now More Expensive Than College In Most States

While much has been made in the last year about the soaring cost of a college education, it’s also worth noting that the price of full-time child care has continued to increase, even while many parents have struggled to make ends meet. And a new study finds that the average cost of day care in 35 states and the District of Columbia is now higher than the price of in-state tuition at a four-year college.

According to a report [PDF] from D.C.-based advocacy group Child Care Aware of America, New York is the most expensive state for parents with kids in day care. The average yearly cost for an infant at a child care center will run parents $14,009, while care for a 4-year-old costs an average of $11,585. Meanwhile, College Board data says the average tuition and fees for a state college in New York is $6,213 per year. Thus, the cost of day care can be more than twice the cost of a university education.

Even in states where day care is more affordable, it’s still more expensive than higher education. For example, infant day care in Wyoming runs $7,727 a year, while Wyoming students can go to a public college there for $4,125 per year.

Of the 10 states with the most expensive infant day care averages, only one (Indiana) came in at under $10,000 a year. But when you consider that the median income for a single-mother family in Indiana is only $22,178, that means day care would take more than 44% out of a single mom’s wallet.

“Families need child care in order to work,” said Ollie M. Smith, Child Care Aware of America’s Interim Executive Director. “But, child care today is simply unaffordable for too many families. This is not a low income issue. Families at nearly every income — except for the very wealthy — struggle with the cost of child care.”


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  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Not to diminish Women’s Rights in the slightest – but we should go back to an economy that needed only one adult to work per family unit (be it male or female).

    • eccsame says:

      Great suggestion. You should get right on that.

      • kanenas says:

        We and quite a few people make out just fine with this arrangement. Sure it involves sacrifice, but the kids get the best child care in the world, their mom.

      • Slatts says:

        Um, I *am* on it — my wife stays home. Sure, we have less money, but the kids are happier, and she can always go back to work once the kids start school.

        What Velvet Jones said below is absolutely true: my wife could go back to making $40k as a high school teacher, but we’d be spending close to that on child care. Sure, she could work just to work, to “get her out of the house”, but why?

        • crispyduck13 says:

          …and she can always go back to work once the kids start school.
          Sure, she could work just to work, to “get her out of the house”, but why?

          I hope you’re joking about both of those things.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          If she doesn’t want to work, that’s a valid choice. It would drive me crazy to not work, but I also don’t even know if I want kids. I find great personal gratification in working, and I don’t think that would diminish if I had a kid.

          • chefboyardee says:

            My wife wrestled with this same thing. She desperately wanted to be a SAHM because the boy is just awesome, but had to balance that with truly loving her work and getting a lot of personal satisfaction out of her job. Also, the very real fear that once she was out of the workforce, it would be very hard for her to get back in at the same level.

            In the end, we both ended up working, because she makes 3-4x what our yearly childcare costs are, so the math worked in our favor. We got very lucky to find a nearby early education center that balances “not sucking” with “not pushing them like crazies to learn their ABCs before they’re 1”.

            After our (potential) second kid, we’ll see how the calculations (and emotions) play out.

          • ooddballz says:

            If raising a child is not “work”, then you are probably neglecting the child.
            Just my opinion of course.

        • eccsame says:

          Loias comment has nothing to do with your personal situation, but with the American economy as a whole and some unicorn-infested dreamland where the country can get by with less than 50% of a family “unit” working.

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            This. It’s just the two of us and I don’t dare think we could get by with only one of us working.

            • Sneeje says:

              Everyone has to figure out what works for them, but consider this: if the additional income from a second person goes entirely to childcare, why work? That was exactly the calculus we had to do. After taxes and other stuff, my sig other brought home $2,100/month. Childcare was $1000 for the first child, $800 for the second, and $800 for the third. Things have changed now, but after-school care ain’t cheap either.

              • pecan 3.14159265 says:

                That’s the point I made further downthread. If the math works out to where all of your income gets put toward childcare anyway, you might as well stay home. But that could either be very common or very uncommon. Either way, I don’t think most people could do it. I have a friend who is has three kids. I have no idea how they do it on one income. At some point, it’s unsustainable for them to live on one income and have three kids.

                • chefboyardee says:

                  I have a very similar friend, and that one income is spotty at best (seasonal work, construction, etc). I honestly don’t know how they do it, but I do know that they’re behind on literally every bill (including rent), their phone is constantly shut off temporarily, and eventually it’s going to have to catch up to them.

                  It angers me when I see the wife posting on Facebook about “I need my Dunkin fix this morning, just sent hubby out!” No, you need to stop being selfish and save your money – for the welfare of the kids before you are literally homeless. I don’t know what that has to do with this thread, but I had to vent somewhere that I know they won’t see it, because obviously neither of them has any interest in reading a site like this.

                  • pecan 3.14159265 says:

                    That’s terrible. My friend with the three kids, the one income is pretty good. They’re not struggling, but they’re also very smart about how much they spend. Only one is old enough to be in school, so they’re able to afford private school for him, but I don’t think they’re seeing the financial impact until later when all three are in school and they have to figure out whether all three get private school. Somehow I think everyone’s just going to eventually go to public school.

              • Budala says:

                I’d say with this reasoning one could go ahead and say that even with the 1 parent bring in more than the cost of child care if would still be worth it not to work. What people fail to calculate in is the cost of being at the job (gas, car repairs, car insurance, wear and tear parts that get used up, stress that the job brings, clothes/make-up for work, eating out during lunch with co-workers), the sick days due to the parent staying home with the sick kid and also not to forget the 45-50 hours weekly missed not being able to be with the kids.

                • pecan 3.14159265 says:

                  I agree that there are probably overall savings, but if the stay at home parent is a woman, I doubt she just stops wearing makeup or that none of her work wardrobe can be worn outside of work. Things will still need to be replaced, as needed. I wear heels outside of work, just like I wear a lot of my work clothes outside of work. I’ve purposely tried to be flexible in the things I buy, And stay at home parents don’t literally stay home all day. They take their kids to classes, pick up new hobbies, and do other things that require gas and put wear and tear on the car. There’s really no aspect that leads to saving money immediately.

                  As for the 45 to 50 hours weekly not being with the kids…tough cookies. That’s life. Everyone in my family worked. I had this thing called school, where I went away for about 8 hours a day, five days a week.

          • JEDIDIAH says:

            The value of that second W-2 is disputable. It doesn’t come for free. There is overhead to consider as well as the tax consequences of the 2nd salary. Then there is the problem of replacing any services that you don’t consider “work”.

            THAT is the subject of the article. It’s not an obvious conclusion. You need to actually do the math and not take anything as an article of faith.

            Leaving one person free to fully commit to the career is probably a very useful thing just by itself.

    • Velvet Jones says:

      The government will never allow that to happen. That takes away their cut. 20/20 did a great piece on this about 10 years ago. They showed it that in many cases it was better for a family if one person stayed home and didn’t work, then it was to have both parents working. In this one instance, they showed the wife had to make at least $27,000 a year to break even with staying home. This was based on location and child care costs at the time. I would image now that number is closer to $40,000 is some cities.

      • AspieMBA says:

        Sounds about right. I did the calculations for a talk to a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group way back in ’01. When you put the second income on top of the first, you have to account for federal tax, state tax, FICA and then childcare, transportation, clothing, convenience meals. In 2001, if one spouse made $40,000 (average for that county at the time) with two kids in daycare, the second spouse would have to earn $24,000 just to break even.

      • Raanne says:

        or the husband had to make at least 27k.

        Anyway – this analysis doesn’t take into account the entire life cycle of the career and is looking at doing better on an annual basis. When you leave work for 5+ years, then you start over at the bottom. You have lost the raises, experience, and promotions that you would have gained over the past 10 years (assuming you had 5 years of work before you left to stay home).

        This is a HUGE impact on income.

        • Velvet Jones says:

          “Wife” was not intended as a generic. In the case of the 20/20 piece, it was the wife who was staying home.

        • AspieMBA says:

          Yep, that’s why I use “spouse” – hubsters stayed home for awhile after a layoff while I worked.

          I don’t even want to think about the financial impact we’ve taken from my being a stay at home mom. I made $62k/yr when I went on leave to have my first. I was laid off while I was in the operating room – nice company – NOT. Decided to stay home for a while. Had my 2nd 22 months later, hubby and I decided I would stay home until the littlest was in 1st grade. Then we found out our son (1st child) had autism. I’ve only gone back for seasonal work since, and it’s been 13 years since I was laid off.

          But, I’m going to be cliche and state I’m glad I made the decision. Son is doing extremely well and mainstreamed since I was able to provide round the clock therapy. Daughter is in the gifted program and being at home lets me provide all sorts of opportunities for her. And I won’t cry (much) over the lost (gulp) $475,500 I didn’t make (after tax, before day care expenses)…

    • Guppy06 says:

      That’s only possible when pay is high enough for a single earner to support an entire household.

      “Women’s Rights” was about women choosing to work. Today, nobody can choose not to.

      • unpolloloco says:

        Inflation-adjusted median income for men is the same as 1968 ( (and income for women is significantly higher now than then. A lot more people got by on one-income houses then than now. The difference now is that we spend more.

        • chefboyardee says:

          “The difference now is that we spend more.”

          This is exactly the ‘problem’. Nobody wants to sacrifice like our parents did (myself included – my wife and I both make decent money, and both work, and pay for childcare for our < 1 year old son). Personally, we did the math, and we want to be able to save now so we can give him more luxuries than we had. Is it necessary? I don't know, I was a happy kid and we didn't have much other than our family and an Atari.

          Choosing daycare and having things, vs one of us staying at home and sacrificing some stuff has been, and continues to be, the most difficult decision I've ever have to make.

          • Jevia says:

            In our family, the wife makes more money. Sure the husband could have stayed home, but he really didn’t want to do it. Plus, the extra money he brings in, after paying for child care, helped us afford to buy a house with a yard near the school the kids will go to, rather than live in a much smaller apartment.

            The daycare also provided pre-school, which prepared our oldest quite well for kindergarten (and I assume will do the same for the youngest).

        • Guppy06 says:

          “Median” doesn’t show income distribution. 1968 didn’t have anywhere near the income disparity of 2011, meaning there were far more people making the “median” income in 1968 than in the hollowed-out middle class of today.

          The difference isn’t that we spend more, but that the graph of income distribution today looks more like a u than an n.

        • Jevia says:

          Yeah, we spend more on housing, healthcare, retirement, food and a host of other life necessities. Lots of things used to be free or quite cheap and aren’t anymore.

    • dolemite says:

      Only way that will happen is if corporations decided they really didn’t need an extra billion in profits…”Let’s go ahead and give people raises we’ve been denying them for the past 3 years, and help out on healthcare…you know, pay people what they are worth.” Then maybe we wouldn’t have every family member working 50 hours a week.

      • TheMansfieldMauler says:

        LOL. And that would result in no inflation, which would put that “worth” right back where it is now.

        Also, you could hire green unicorns to watch your kids.

        • kanenas says:

          It never ceases to amaze me how so many grown adults have no clue about how inflation works. If we followed the parent of your post, we’d be giving $100 an hour minimum wages and a load of bread would cost $50.

    • redskull says:

      It’s none of my business of course, but I often overhear female coworkers talking about the ridiculously high cost of childcare, and I have to wonder why they even bother to work. Most of them probably make just enough to pay for childcare with maybe enough left over for lunch if they’re lucky. Not seeing the point.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        Building up retirement benefits along with having insurance?

        • ash says:

          Also, when a person leaves the workforce for an extended period, it’s going to be more difficult to find employment and they will likely be paid less than someone who had been working the entire time without the gap. So taking an extended break from employment can hurt your lifetime earnings, not just the time that was taken off from work.
          Plus the very real possibility that your spouse could become disabled, die, or the pair divorces. In those cases, the non working spouse is really screwed.

      • thrld says:

        Some people actually need that pittance that is left after chidcare takes the huge bite out of it. Not to mention health insurance & other benfits. And for single moms, staying home is not really an option. And if they are not single moms, then your statement is true for the dads as well — because it’s not like the moms are paid in some fake looking monopoly money that can only be used for childcare, while the dads get regular cash.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        It’s really only worth quitting your job if it really evens out. If one child is $11,000 and two children cost $22,000, I can see why some people just quit.

        Trouble is, even for people who make a little more than that, it can still hurt. If you make $60,000 (this is not much in many areas), you’d pretty much need 5 kids to make it worth staying home – but even if you have one kid and make $60,000, it doesn’t mean $11,000 cost doesn’t hurt. I would never be a stay at home parent, but staying home to save that $11,000 is not worth losing the $49,000 of salary. It’s just math.

      • Mamudoon says:

        The benefits of working aren’t solely financial. I’m disabled, and while my case may be a bit different because I wasn’t given a choice, doing nothing all day and having no purpose in life will destroy you mentally. Some people can do it – my able-bodied brother has no difficulty at all mooching off of my family – but most people require stimulation and a sense of accomplishment to keep them sane.

        When I was able to work, I never made much money, but I loved everything that my job gave me – independence, interesting (VERY interesting!) clients, a place to dress up and go to each day, coworkers to chat with, and an unending supply of things to learn. I was very lucky – I had the kind of job that I’d honestly do for free because I loved it so much.

        Having all of those things taken from me has been far harder to endure than the physical suffering my diseases cause me. I don’t even feel human some days. Yes, it’s important to make money when you’re working, but it’s far from the only reason to have a job.

      • Raanne says:

        The men don’t talk about the ridiculously high cost of child care as well?

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      Someone has to care for the children. We don’t want one adult looking after 30 children, so it’s going to be expensive.

      The only way to make it economical for both parents to work is to either lump a bunch of kids on each worker or pay the child care workers very little.

      Unless we are talking about higher taxes to subsidize child care across the board, so that we can have people working for less money than is spent to enable the work?

    • Smiling says:

      I agree. We are basically forced to put kids in childcare with strangers because of our economy. The Two Income Trap is a wonderful by Elizabeth Warren that really explains how the economy is forcing us to have two incomes. I think having a parent at home is good for even school-aged children as the stay-at-home parent can be more involved in PTA, can cook nutritious food for the family, can have time to take the child to an activity or two, is home to make sure no one is getting into trouble, etc…

    • BennieHannah says:

      It made complete financial sense for me to stay home with our two children. I attended college part time and worked part time during the hours they were in pre-school and later in public school. Because I was the stay-at-home and because my husband worked longer hours, the lion’s share of the child-rearing, parent care, pet care, house care, volunteer work, bills/investments etc. fell to me. Which I was fine with, and which my husband appreciated and never took for granted.

      Fast forward and my children are in their twenties. While his career has steadily taken off, mine has never gotten off the ground. My spotty and eclectic work history means I’m supremely qualified to do practically anything and nothing. Or nothing that pays well. Nothing with benefits or the promise of promotion. Add to that, my husband (and by extension our parents and our children) have grown to expect a level of care and attention that would be impossible to provide (without significant expense) if I were to find full time work. I’m the one who takes homemade meals to my MIL and ill relatives. Next week I’ll drive over to my daughter’s college apartment to help her pack and move. Again, they are all grateful, I just don’t think I expected my decision to stay at home with my kids to parlay into a lifetime of caretaking at the expense of my own earning potential. And maybe this doesn’t happen in the majority of cases. Maybe some women and men are able to take off a few years and hop back onto the career track as if nothing has happened. But that has not been my experience.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        This is my #1 fear if I ever have kids. It doesn’t help that my mom went through a similar situation as you – she had the possibility to enter the work force and chose not to as a full time employee because several things, and then ultimately because I was born. She stayed at home, however once I got to high school and became more independent she really began to resent the state of her life.
        She pushed me to succeed in school and work so I won’t “end up like her” and its one of the big reasons I nearly have a panic attack every time I think about having children because it means the absolute DECIMATION of my life as it has been. I won’t be able to work, I won’t be able to return to work once the kid is in school and my life and success will basically be forfeit for the rest of my days, just because I decided to have one kid. That’s not fair. That’s why I’m not having kids.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          But you don’t have to be a stay at home parent. Women used to be expected to stay home, or be pressured to be a stay at home mother. The idea was that you weren’t a real parent if you weren’t at home and women weren’t supposed to be working. Obviously, times change. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do, and that includes being a stay at home parent.

          • BennieHannah says:

            I agree. You don’t have to choose between staying at home or forgoing parenthood. Plenty of kids thrive within the regular care of a daycare, nanny, preschool or other childcare arrangement. Almost all of my friends with children work outside the home. It’s really more a matter of money than anything else. If you have the money to pay for quality childcare, then deciding to become a parent and a careerwoman is a much easier proposition!

            I had my children when I was very young, so I had no established career to give up, and that’s why it “made financial sense” for me to stay home – although my children did spend some small amounts of time in childcare while I was at school or working part time. If I had had children later in life, there’s no way I would have abandoned a hard-won career path.

            Looking back, I would have done a few things differently. But ALL parents say that. And even with all my mistakes I managed to raise two kids who are not assholes — and, really, that’s the best you can hope for.

      • LEDZEPPELIN24 says:

        Or, you can get a babysitter. Some will work for dirt cheap nowadays, and if you have more than one kid, it can be worth the investment.

    • Kisses4Katie says:

      I agree 100% w/ Loias. There is no reason it should take 2 incomes to have a living wage. It is a terrible thing to have to give up your little one’s childhood because of the necessity to work.

    • danone says:

      This would work only in 2 parent households.

  2. Wonko the Sane says:

    This data is misleading because the tuition quoted is for public universities which receive support from the state and, to a lesser degree, federal government. The true cost of higher education is higher than child care, as it should be.

    That being said, I’d be willing to pay more for higher education if it adopted some elements of child care like naptime.

  3. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    I’ve heard there is a way to completely avoid childcare altogether.

    • nishioka says:

      Not have children? Well yes, but that’s not a viable long-terms solution that you can apply to society as a whole.

      • Marlin says:

        Don’t you know only white land owners should be able to have kids and vote. DUH

      • TheMansfieldMauler says:

        that’s not a viable long-terms solution that you can apply to society as a whole.

        It doesn’t need to be applied to society as a whole, just to those who want to avoid the expense of daycare.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          So only rich people should have children?

          You realize your ramblings are incredibly ridiculous and out of touch, right?

          • TheMansfieldMauler says:

            As I already said, just those who want to avoid the expense of daycare.

            This may come as a shock to you, but that doesn’t mean rich people. It means those who want to avoid the expense of daycare.

          • bnceo says:

            No, what I would say if that people should realize how much it cost to have children and understand that it’s a financial issue too, not just simply cuddling wuzzy babies with dimples and smiles.

            Point being: If you can’t afford to take care of yourself, don’t have children and burden us with your selfishness.

            • pecan 3.14159265 says:

              This is the point I wish some of my family members would understand. They act like kids are all rainbows and kittens and that the joy of it all somehow means the money doesn’t matter. Unless a kid’s smiles and laughs somehow becomes valid US currency, no, they aren’t all rainbows and kittens. They cost money, and it would be so irresponsible to have one without being able to afford the cost of having one.

            • eccsame says:

              Where were you a few weeks ago, bnceo, when I said essentially the same thing and everyone was acting like I was advocating baby rape?

      • Guppy06 says:

        When the population declines enough to drive up the price of labor, it might be possible to afford children again.

      • LEDZEPPELIN24 says:

        Or hire a babysitter. Some work for dirt cheap, and if you have more than one kid, it is worth the investment.

    • P=mv says:

      Yep, that would be Grandma or Auntie, etc.

    • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

      You mean use them as chimney sweeps?

      • hoi-polloi says:

        The dimensions of your average flue in non-industrial settings it just too small for children. A large fireplace flue is going to be around 13″ x 13″. The need for climber boys to scrub flues has really died down since the decline of industry.

    • thrld says:


  4. crispyduck13 says:

    Back when husband and I were sort of planning to have a kid in a year I started scoping out the cost of fulltime daycare for an infant in central PA: $700 a month was the cheapest I could find within 20 minute radius of my house. Women doing this sort of thing out of their home might be cheaper, but I remain unwilling to go that route.

    I was shocked it was that high. I understand you can write some of it off on your taxes right?

    • Marlin says:

      You might be able to write off some but depends on your income and if your name is Mittens ;)

    • longdvsn says:

      I’m not sure if it applies everywhere, but my employer participates in Dependent Care Savings Accounts – similar to Health Care Reimbursement accounts. Money is taken out of your paycheck (Pre-tax – up to something like $5k/yr). That can be spent on eligible day-care services…so if you spend 5k on daycare, you aren’t paying taxes on it (like a tax deduction) and saving at least 1000 in taxes.

    • Bsamm09 says:

      There is a credit. Way better than a deduction.

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        So the government is paying for the child care. I wish we could call tax credits expenditures like they are.

    • Costner says:

      I pay about $175 a week in childcare costs… I use a Daycare Spending Account. According to the little formula they provide, they claim I will save $1400 in taxes. Whether or not that is accurate I cannot say…. but when you spend $9100 a year on childcare, $1400 just doesn’t seem all that significant.

      I’m not complaining of course – because I made the choice to become a parent, and the expense was known. However when people tell me they can’t afford to save for their children’s education… I just sort of laugh. If you can afford daycare – you can afford to chip in for their education. It might not cover 100% of the cost (because tuition is one thing, but room & board, books, fees, and everything else is a whole separate issue), but it should make a dent.

    • Raanne says:

      up to 4000 a year.

  5. Scooter McGee says:

    Just more support for my desire to not have kids.

  6. ChuckECheese says:

    We’ve got this backwards. Those kids should be making money, not costing it. We’ve got to put these kids to work!

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Word. Why waste those nimble little hands on finger-painting when they’re so good with a sewing machine??

  7. EP2012 says:

    Note to potential parents and/or pet owners: If you can’t afford a child or pet, DON’T HAVE/GET ONE! It’s as simple as that. In the wild, lions kill their babies when times are tough – humans obviously shouldn’t do that, but a “financial death” is just as life-destroying. Plan things out – for the next twenty years and accept that kids/pets are expensive.

    • thatfunkylady says:

      I’ve always wanted to hand out directions to Planned Parenthood to customers-and the general public for that matter, but I think it would be frowned upon.

      • EP2012 says:

        You’d be doing society a huge service by doing that. Some people are just caught in the “I want a baby” mode that they don’t think it through. I want a Ferrari, but I don’t want a $300,000 debt… LOL

    • Smiling says:

      Pets? really? Pets don’t have clothes, and lessons, and the amount of food kids eat. There is no comparison. We spend less than $1000 a year on both of our dogs with shots, check-ups and a high quality food (Kirkland brand from Costco, which is excellent.) We had on medical procedure on one dog that cost $500, plus the neuters we got done. It isn’t even a fraction of what our daughter costs.

  8. thrld says:

    Not to diminish Human Rights in the slightest, but it would be great if we had an economy that needed only one adult to work per family unit (be it male or female). And the tax break is nominal. And while some may argue that their taxes should support ‘my kids’ — my kids are going to turn into the adults that pay into your Medicare. So shut it.

  9. longdvsn says:

    An interesting comparison…but when looking at care for infants, a single provider can probably only handle a couple or few infants and has to provide care for an entire day. Compare to college courses at a state university with an average 40 students for about 4 hours per day (perhaps something of a typical courseload…3-4 hours of in-class time+office hours, etc.).

    Of course, teaching college-level coursework requires far more education and demands more pay (not to diminish the work of infant care providers). But nevertheless, I would expect infant and toddler care to cost a bit given that there can probably only be a 4-1 ratio of children per provider or something for that young age group.

  10. RandomHookup says:

    So I should just send my toddler to college?

  11. Nuc says:

    These kind of costs are what made the wife decide not to work. There was less stress with my wife staying home to care for the kids than there was trying to take care of the family on my salary alone. If we went the daycare route – they would have been stuck there and half the wife’s salary would have to to daycare. It wasn’t worth it.

    • Nuc says:

      Damn inability to correct posts…

      These kind of costs are what made the wife decide not to work. There was less stress with my wife staying home to care for the kids AND trying to take care of the family on my salary alone. If we went the daycare route – they would have been stuck there and half the wife’s salary would have gone to daycare. It wasn’t worth it.

  12. Mr Grey says:

    My wife and I paid $11,700 for daycare/year for one child, plus and additional $2000 for preschool for 2 years – once our son reached 4 years old. It wasn’t a huge burden, but hurt a lot.
    (being a September baby he had to wait a year to go to kindergarten)

    My salary is pretty good, and my was a teacher (thank you spending cuts) doing it now would be untenable.

    Most of WI is pretty reasonable – just not Madison.

    • wenhaver says:

      Madison was *terrible* for child care costs. We paid nearly $30,000 per year for our 2 kids until my SO started working from home. When we moved to Austin, I put them into a private school for pre-k through 1st and paid $1000/month total for tuition and before/after school care. I nearly wept in relief to write that check.

  13. thatfunkylady says:

    Unfortunately the costs are only going to get much higher, funding for child care and education is constantly getting cut. It’s very frustrating.

    It’s also frustrating that people don’t understand why it costs so much to begin with. Between the basic operating costs (electricity, supplies, insurance, ect.), employee pay, food, building rent, transportation, and so on, I’m surprised it doesn’t cost more. But luckily, there are often local (or state or national) programs that will help cover fees, sometimes even the entire tuition.

    • dolemite says:

      *Everything* is going to get more expensive. Healthcare’s rising 5, 10, 15% per year, childcare does the same, gas goes up, cable goes up, college goes up, and food is going up due to droughts. What does your pay do? Not go up. I have a hard time believing inflation is just 2-3% per year, because every bill I have goes up an average of 5% per year. The last time I had a raise, it was about 1.5%, and that was after 2 years of no raises. Despite working harder and longer, I feel like I make less money now than I did 6-8 years ago, despite my paycheck being larger.

      • bnceo says:

        My biggest peeve is when I see my rent go up when I clearly know property taxes stayed the same in my town. I am going to my property manager to justify the increase.

        • Lethe says:

          I don’t know about where you live, but I can possibly have an answer with this one. My partner and I just bought a house about a year ago and decided to rent out my old one instead of selling it. When we were looking into it, we learned that in Ontario landlords can only raise rent by about 2% per year at most. If we don’t raise the rent every year, even when property taxes and other expenses seem to have stayed the same, we could be stuck in the future if a bad year means our expenses go up by 3-5% or more.

          • shepd says:

            Yep, if you don’t do it you’re screwed–EXCEPT you can apply for a special increase exemption. Which is lengthy and unpleasant, and you will probably have renters just leave.

            Just a fun question, there’s two ways you can do the rent increases in Ontario. You can either directly increase the last month rent deposit each increase to match, or you can have the renter pay the increase and then send them a cheque.

            I couldn’t figure out the benefits of the latter way, except to encourage tenants to complain and end up making money (that’s what happened to me, the landlord decided to pave the entire lot, which took them about a week, and since we pay for parking separately from rent, I asked for 2 cars worth of parking reimbursed for that period, which was a little more than the rent increase–another year the water main blew up, so I asked for 3 days of rent back for the days I was without water–with my previous landlord that did it the other way, I was never arsed to complain).

            Personally, considering how abhorrent the legislation is in Ontario for landlords, I’d just not bother renting anything. You can’t even ban pets!

        • Bsamm09 says:

          There’s a lot more that goes with it than just property taxes.

      • shepd says:

        Don’t use CPI for inflation numbers, it is purposely skewed towards numbers that reflect inflation on luxury goods rather than necessities.

        Also, the costs are high because the government funds it. It only makes sense when you consider the big picture. Example: In Quebec, daycare is $25 ($6250 yearly) or $7 ($1750 yearly) per day, depending on your income level.

        Yet, as with everything that is “free”, there’s very, very high costs. You can either offer less of it, or you can charge people for it via taxes. Quebec does both.

        The government’s solution, as always, to the “Oh crap, we’re out of daycare!” is to mandate more of it, or, in other words, increase taxes. This leads to “I better get it before it’s out again” which means people such as myself who have someone staying at home to look after the children have to pay more and brings me closer to “I better it it for myself as it’s more profitable”. At some point the extra money earned would outweigh the value of the child having a stay at home parent, since extra money can pay for the mental health costs bad daycare can cause.

        Or, without government, I could just pay fewer taxes and not have to make screwed up choices and let parents who both work pay for daycare like they should. Those who earn very little and are single parents would be supported by charity, which I’d be happy to fund with the taxes I don’t pay.

  14. Blueskylaw says:

    Why not just send your toddler straight to college? They’re first written report can be titled:
    How to kill two birds with one stone.

  15. benminer says:

    We pay $303 week but about 2/3 of that is reimbursed through pre-tax payroll deductions so we don’t pay taxes on it. I’m sure we could find less expensive day care but it would mean having to drive seperately to work which is more gas, more miles on the car, and less family time.

  16. ConsumerKat says:

    Unfortunately, I’ll be having to figure this one out after the little dude gets here around 1-3-13. However, hubs is self-employed, and even though his income would be enough to support our household, it’s my job that offers the benefits, with no out-of-paycheck premiums for my whole family. Even going back to work part time to avoid full-time daycare wouldn’t make sense, because then I WOULD have to pay premiums for the spouse and mini-me. It’s a catch-22. And awful.

  17. Biblio Fiend says:

    Just to take another look at the numbers, when my daughter was an infant attending day care five days a week (3 years ago) I was paying $280 a week in the Chicago suburbs. Her day care was open 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. and if I wanted to I could potentially leave her there for 12 hours a day M-F (not that I would but the option was available to me). That’s the possibility of 60 hours a week of child care. When you break it down hourly, had I been using them to the fullest extent I was allowed I would have been paying them $4.66 an hour. Now that she’s older that figure is even smaller. It doesn’t make the total sting any less when paying the bills but it helps to look at it other ways.

  18. tlvx says:

    The real tragedy going on here, is that these large daycare corporations, are dumbing down the curriculum to absolutely nothing… to basically be left up to the children’s playful whims, for doing things like covering an entire canvas in paint until it sags… all for the corporation’s sole purpose of not having to pay the daycare workers to teach anything.

    The daycare employees are now being given belittling titles, that put them on the playful level of the children; and, the employees cannot even offer the children instructive ideas, such as… coloring within the lines of geometrical shapes, or characters, or animals… for fear that the corporation will one day have to actually pay the daycare employees for being more than… oh, an inanimate object, within a daycare classroom.

    So, while daycare is ever expensive for parents… the real question is, Why are daycare employee salaries not increasing commensurate? Where is all that additional money really going? It’s certainly not going to improve the children’s educational experience… in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I think we all know where the money is going. To CEO’s and their executive cronies.

    Whether the daycare employees can successfully file a class action, or form a daycare employee union… Something tells me that daycare is not going to get more affordable anytime soon. Even if the employees are paid correctly for teaching small children, the executives will most likely refuse to reduce their bloated salaries and bonuses, to the point where we reach critical mass with daycare costs, and people just start staying home with their children again.

    Continuous inflation, and the subsequent gradual devaluation of the dollar, is certainly not helping these types of situations… as banks and employers stand pat on salaries, while the world turns.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      I was never under the impression that daycare was supposed to include any education beyond socialization. It is simply supervision.

      Maybe you’re thinking of preschool?

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Yeah, there’s a difference between daycare and preschool. I never had daycare as a child. My parents always sent me to some kind of school. I don’t know if preschool or any other kind of educational program (like Montessori) is a ridiculous amount higher than daycare, but if it wasn’t a huge difference in cost, I would hope that parents put their kid in an educational program rather than daycare.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      I didn’t realize daycare was such a profitable industry. Daycare is expensive and the staff paid poorly because we require so much staff per child. By the time you pay for the building, administration, insurance, etc there isn’t much left.

  19. MonkeyMonk says:

    Advice from somebody who’s been through this already:

    The best part of paying $12,000/year for daycare is when they hit 5, go to public school, and you’re suddenly making $12,000 more a year. We ended up investing this amount annually since we had gotten used to not having it anyway and after only a few years we’ve saved up enough to have retroactively paid off the entire daycare.

    • sadie kate says:

      This is reaaaaaaaaaaaaally good advice. I am going to hold onto this tip in my mind until my daughter’s old enough to enter kindergarten in about 4 years. Any time I am feeling stressed about our lack of savings, this will actually comfort me.

    • Jevia says:

      A better idea is to put that money in a savings account for a college fund for the child. In another 13 years, the child is going to need that kind of money for 4 years of college tuition.

  20. zantafio says:

    Add to the fact that the USA is the only, YES THE ONLY! , country in the world without guaranteed parental leave.

    And how much do they pay for day care in the rest of the industrialized world?

    read and weep.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Well that’s all fine and good but compare the overall tax rates for parents making 100k there and those making 100k here. I was under the impression that UK taxes are very high.

      • zantafio says:

        when you take into consideration that healthcare is free, are the tax rates really that higher than in the US?

        • shepd says:

          How much free healthcare will you get? Take into consideration that it takes 2 years to get a family doctor in many Canadian cities, so you could be without a doctor for 2 years each time you move cities. You could simply go without that part of your health plan in the US for 2 years, so make sure you work out that savings.

          Also consider the savings on not getting MRIs for months because the government ran out of them and other such things.

          You can have my 3rd car for free. Of course, I own no 3rd car. But maybe someday I will!

          • MMD says:

            I know several Canadians. None of them have reported anything close to the wait times you’re talking about – and I’ve asked repeatedly. No waits, no denial of care. I realize I haven’t spoken to every Canadian in the world, but this blanket claim of “2 years to get a doctor” is not universally true.

            • Smiling says:

              I agree with you, this is an out and out lie or gross exaggeration. Maybe it takes that long to get a dedicated family doctor, but I am guessing that you can SEE a doctor for care, just not the same one each time. They also don’t run out of MRI’s. They just refuse to give them to every person with a twitch who thinks they have cancer or something.

              • shepd says:



                “I have the dubious distinction of being an expert on this issue, having spent far too many years without a family doctor in this land of supposed universal health care.”

                “An estimated 20,000 people in Kitchener-Waterloo area are without a family doctor.” (That is approximately 1 in 10 people, this city being the 10th largest in Canada, it isn’t the boondocks).”

                Trust me, I live there, I know this stuff. That isn’t my blog. However, it is the experience of all those that I know. This issue has existed here since I was old enough to care about it (so, at least 20 years).



                “Excessive wait times for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies are a major problem in the Canadian healthcare system.”

                Would you like more?

                I can provide other items where Canada’s health care spectacularly fails.

              • shepd says:

                Missed the most juicy comment from that study on MRIs in Canada:

                “Wait times for the most urgent priority studies varied from less than 24 hours to more than one month.”

                So, please, don’t believe (other) Canadians. They’re clearly idiots. Believe the doctors themselves. This was a study written by four MDs, and a Canada Research Chair for Patient Safety and Quality Improvement. How much better can I do than this for you?

              • ugly says:

                You’re exactly right Smiling. You can readily go to a clinic regardless of a family doctor. In fact, many clinics keep your records in the same capacity and can act as a continuing care for most reasons.

                Moving a few times within Canada, I’ve never had to look for more than 2 months to find a doctor.

                The MRI issue is more poignant. There is definitely a long wait time for them, however I’ve had 2 now, and neither took more than 2 weeks (one was the day after) They save a lot of time for emergencies, and so I simply asked to be put on the call list, they brought me in the next day in one case, and about 10 days the other time. In each case my booking was over a month away though.

                I’ve had surgeries in 2 of the top 10 (by population) cities, and lived in 5 different cities. Maybe I’m a statistical anomaly or maybe the concerns are overstated by people who have a bone to pick.

                Our HQ is in the states, and having many friends in both locations, the stories of our co-workers from the states vs. those from Canada sure point to the Canadian system being better. That’s not to say it can’t improve, but I wouldn’t trade it for our southern neighbours at all, and the fundamentals seem a lot more workable.

            • shepd says:

              Clearly you know of no Canadians in Ontario, the province with the largest population in Canada.

          • Aiesline says:

            Where are you getting this information.. it’s rather fabricated.

            • shepd says:

              I am getting this information from the government itself and popular news sources. Please read above.

              • Jevia says:

                How about a real cite for your claims instead of just saying “MRI study” or “reports by doctors”? Such as the name of the article, the date, something that can actually allow people to find the information.

                I googled “2 years to see a doctor in Canada” and can’t find anything. Some reports of waiting a few months to see specialists or for non-emergency surgery. Just like the US.

          • Jevia says:

            Oh this is such BS. It does not take 2 years to see a doctor. Sure you may wait a few months for a specialist in some fields, but I had to wait 6 months to see a dermatologist with my health insurance here.

            • shepd says:

              Your family doctor is a dermatologist?

              • Jevia says:

                No, the family doctor I saw in 1 day. Got referred to a dermatologist and that took 6 months to get an appointment.

                I have friends in Canada. They never waited 2 years to see their family doctor. Its about the same as here, usually the same day, but occasionally 1 day or 2 if its a weekend. Of course, if its an emergency, they can see someone that same day too.

              • Jevia says:

                Oh, and when I needed an MRI, I waited 3 days. I think that falls somewhere in your 24 hour to 1 month time frame referenced above. I’ve reviewed people’s medical records here in the US, and there’s plenty of examples of a week, or more, and up to a month, between the doctor’s note “needs MRI” and the actual MRI being performed.

          • foursix says:

            I’m married to a Canadian – we live in the U.S. but his entire family is back in Canada – and what you’re describing doesn’t reflect reality at all.

            This isn’t to say everything is sunshine and roses in Canada. The system isn’t perfect. But two years to see a family doctor is a pure fabrication. My husband’s large family is spread across 3 provinces (and they’re all hypochondriacs, I swear to God) and they all see doctors regularly and without issue.

      • Jevia says:

        So you pay a little more in taxes, but you get so much more value in healthcare, child care, maternity/paternity leave, sick time, vacation time, etc. But far be it for those that make millions cough up a little more for us peons who make only 5 figures.

      • RandomHookup says:

        It’s part of the general European social contract. People pay more in taxes, but have better safety nets, better medical coverage, better pensions, longer vacations, lower cost college attendance, better public transit. It’s one of life’s tradeoffs. You also see less of a concern about making a ton of money, because it’s highly taxed (including stock options when they are received, not cashed in).

        Neither approach is perfect, but the out-of-pocket costs probably end up being about the same.

    • jojo319 says:

      Am I really in the minority by thinking that nobody owes me anything, and I don’t “deserve” anything?

    • shepd says:

      I am in Canada, and yes, we have parental leave. I wanted to take two weeks off after my wife had a child.

      Well, the way it’s set up, it’s all or nothing. You don’t get paid for a few weeks, and you don’t get any back pay for the missing pay weeks. And the pay is much lower than you were earning. I worked it out and if I took off 3 months, I’d earn less than 50% via employment benefits.

      Unfortunately, the cost of this hits the companies, so they had no interest in working out an extended vacation deal. I was left with a choice of literally coming into work the day after the child was born (It is legal to use a sick day for the day of birth) or taking the government’s terrible deal. I am told employers in the USA are a little more compassionate.

      I did end up working out a work at home deal with the boss for those two weeks, better than nothing, I suppose.

      The grass is not greener on the other side.

      • Raanne says:

        You say the grass is not greener, but you also say if you took off 3 months, you ‘d earn less than 50%.

        Ok – if I took off 3 months for parental leave, I would earn $0. nothing. And if I wanted to keep my health insurance during those 3 months, I would need to pay my employer the full non-subsidized insurance rate (around 900/month) out of my $0 salary.

        So, while you may not like what is worked out in Canada, the grass most definitely IS greener.

    • JEDIDIAH says:

      Someone has to pay for it sooner or later.

      Greece, Italy, Spain, and the rest of Europe are learning this the hard way right now.

  21. jojo319 says:

    Why do I have a feeling that these 10 states are going to be predominantly Democratic? I don’t know why, why whenever these “high cost” lists come out, they are almost never Republican controlled. Yep, 8 out of 10.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      What is your point?
      You think governors are going around setting daycare pricing for private businesses? Also, I don’t know what your definition of “Republican controlled” is, but there are at least 5, maybe 6 states on that list that I view as red.

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        The point is that there are often subsidies that can drive up demand and increase costs. It’s much more complicated than that of course.

  22. polishhillbilly says:

    How come you can deduct college tuition at tax time, but not deduct private school tuitition for grade school? yes it is my choice, to send him to private school, but I should be able to deduct it.
    It’s cheaper for me to send him to private school, than to pay for daycare before and after school,

    • Smiling says:

      Why should the American public have to pay anything for your kid to go to a special school? College does good fro the entire society in that it gives people the skills to work. Private school does no such thing. Also, there is no “free” alternative to college like there is with school. You choose not to use the free alternative, it should be 100% on your own dime.

  23. RayanneGraff says:

    Yet another reason to not have kids. Nothing but trouble, I say.

  24. Sad Sam says:

    I can totally understand why Moms and Dads would want to stay home to care for child. It is a personal choice.

    I post to note that taking a 5-7 years off from work can seriously undermine life time earnings, career trajectory, security, retirement, etc. Especially with the recession, opting out of work could sink a family if they do not have a second income to rely on when someone is downsized.

    In my opinion, while the yearly cost of child care is high, compared to the loss of lifetime earnings, it comes off as cheap.

  25. foursix says:

    Yeah. No kidding. I work at a public university and have two small kids. Daycare is significantly more expensive than tuition, though few people seem to believe me when I say it. But no lie, paying for college will be a relief after paying for daycare.

    I can’t believe how many people here have commented that there is “no reason” for both parents to work if daycare is so expensive. I did the SAHM thing for a few years, so I’m sympathetic to the urge to be home with your little ones. I obviously believe that there are good reasons for choosing that route.

    But don’t fool yourself into thinking you haven’t lost anything by opting out of the workforce. Even if daycare consumes 100% of your take-home pay – even if it actually costs you money to work (it did for me, for about my first year back in the workforce after staying home) – there are still benefits to having a job. Working helps your retirement fund. Daycare socializes your kids. You will meet new people and expand your network and social circle. And most importantly, you’re building your experience base. This is huge in a lukewarm economy. For every year you take off, it’s more of a struggle to get a good professional position when you want to work again. Which not only has an impact on your future earnings, it also impacts the sorts of jobs you can find. If you think you’re going to be working most of the rest of your life after the kids go to school, you want the job to be something you like and are proud of. It’s harder to do that when you’re just taking what you can get because there’s a huge gap in your resume.

    Which isn’t to say NO DON’T EVER DO IT. The kids are only young once, and for some of us being present for those years is non-negotiable. It’s just…there is a tradeoff. There are consequences to giving up employment (just as there are consequences to putting your kids in daycare.) You can’t rationalize those costs away by saying you wouldn’t take home any money because of daycare expenses, anyway, so none of it matters.

    That soapbox aside, personally I think the cost of child care is the single most pressing problem that feminism needs to address right now, but nobody ever talks about it. We can talk all we want about choice, but when women are faced with seeing their entire salary consumed by daycare costs, well, you can understand if they don’t feel like it’s much of a choice.

  26. frodolives35 says:

    I guess rural Tn isn’t that bad. Full time daycare is about $100 per week. Sadly most kids go to head start as we have quite a poor economy. However housing and the cost of living for a lot of things are cheap. Politics is a real B****. though. You can buy a 2700 square foot nice home for less then $80’000 with utilities running about $300 per month for everything. A higher salary sometimes equals out with cost of living.

  27. Pete & Repeat says:

    Parents: Sit down and look at both of your paychecks (after taxes). Keep track for one month all expenses related to sending your wife to work. Items such as a second commute (gas, car, train fare, whatever), “professional” clothing, DAYCARE, etc. At the end of a typical month – subtract the total expenses from your net (after tax) income. Women, don’t forget to include things such as manicures, more frequent hair cuts/dye etc.

    Think about how much you spend on take out meals, cleaning ladies, dry cleaning/laundry services, and basic house maintenance in addition to day care.

    How much do you really “make” working? The two income trap is a treadmill where you both work and then pay all the money you make to people to take care of your children and prepare food/laundry. Just to keep everyone clean and ready for work/daycare the next day.

    Get off the treadmill. One person can work and the other can take care of children and a home. Division of labor really works! Oh, and your children are not institutionalized and your food is healthier and you can actually spend time together, ya know – as a family.

  28. Black Knight Rebel says:

    Get a family member to baby sit if possible. Provide the kid with entertainment (toys, games, books and such) and that should be enough to keep them out of auntie’s hair. Of course this probably works best if you have two similarly aged kids because I could imagine wanting to shoot myself if I was a kid alone in my aunt’s house every day with no one else to interact with but a person way too old to be cool (kid-thinking)

  29. BettyCrocker says:

    This isn’t new. My kids are 17 and 14 and daycare was more expensive than our rent when they were little.