Childcare Costs Going Through a Growth Spurt

It’s more expensive than college in the D.C. region

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Parents are used to planning ahead... pack snacks, call a babysitter, save for college. But now potential parents may have to start planning ahead just to afford childcare.

    A new study, out today by the National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies, shows the staggering costs of childcare in many states around the country. Costs are getting so high that they're surpassing the average cost of public university tuition per year.

    In the D.C. metro area, the gap between average childcare costs and college cost is jaw-dropping. District parents pay $11,477 a year on average to put their kids in center-based childcare. College is only costing parents an average of $3,899. That means that keeping your kids in daycare is about three times more expensive than giving them a college education.

    It doesn’t get much better in Maryland. College is more expensive, about $7,485 a year. But childcare costs even more than in D.C., at $12,367 a year.

    Virginia is the only place in our region where the gap between college and childcare costs is less than $1,000. On average, parents pay $8,788 a year for child care and $7,952 for college.

    Childcare is more expensive than college in 40 states. The most expensive state for childcare is Massachusetts, at more than $18,750 on average per year.

    So why are costs rising? The study says that it actually has to do with the recession. Because many parents have been forced to work part-time, get second jobs, or work odd hours, their child care needs have been changing. Part-time childcare and care during odd hours is more expensive.

    The study also cites that a consequence of high childcare costs is a move to informal options, which tend to cheaper but don’t guarantee safety or health standards.