Thursday, May 21, 2015

Child care not affordable in many states; costs more than in-state college tuition in 31 states

The annual cost of child care is higher than in-state college tuition in 31 states "and exceeds 40 percent of the average annual income of single mothers in 22 states," says a report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Danielle Paquette reports for The Washington Post. Researchers wrote, “No state provides adequate child-care supports to a majority of children under five."

Researchers looked at the cost of full-time daycare for infants and the number of 4-year-old enrolled in publicly funded Pre-K or equivalent programs, Paquette writes. The cheapest annual cost of daycare is in Alabama, at $5,547, or about 16 percent of a working mother's income. The cost is $16,500 in Massachusetts, $14,500 in New York, $12,500 in Illinois and $11,628 in California. Rates climb even higher in urban areas.

"Over the last three decades, weekly out-of-pocket spending on child-care for families with an employed mother has almost doubled, according to the Census Bureau," Paquette writes. One problem is a lack of reliable, affordable daycare, which causes some women to quit jobs or settle for jobs below their skill sets or part-time work in return for more schedule flexibility, said economist Ariane Hegewisch.

Another problem is that only 17 percent of children eligible for child-care subsidies under the federal parameters in 2011 received the assistance, the report found, Paquette writes. "An estimated 43 million workers can’t take a sick day without shrinking their paycheck, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. They’re often forced to choose between a chunk of wages or, say, taking their child to the doctor."

The report found that only 12 percent of four-year-olds in New Hampshire have access to public preschool and only 13 percent in Hawaii, Idaho and Utah, Paquette writes. (Institute for Women’s Policy Research map)

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