The emotional and financial costs that come with bringing a baby or child into your life can be significant. Child care costs, already one of the biggest expenses a parent must endure, have increased to concerning levels over the course of the pandemic.
According to the Care.com 2022 Cost of Care Survey, 63% of parents claim that child care has become more expensive over the past year. However, not only have costs risen, but quality and availability have lessened, according to Care.com exec Natalie Mayslich.
“When it comes to child care, there are three critical criteria — cost, quality and availability — and based on our research findings, we’ve not only failed to make progress as a country, we’ve actually gone backwards,” said Mayslich in a statement.
Cost of Sitters, Childcare Rising
The Care.com study also found that the cost of nannies rose about 20% over the course of the pandemic — and that babysitting and day care costs went up between 5% to 15%.
According to parents who participated in the study, these soaring costs are due to care centers increasing tuition costs (46%), inflation (41%) and centers admitting fewer children (36%).
Overall, for one child, parents paid $694/week for a nanny in 2021 (up from $565/week in 2019), $226/week for a child care or day care center (up from $182/week) and $221/week for a family care center (up from $177/week), per the survey.
Other survey stats are equally troubling. Not only is care more expensive, but it is also harder to find. 43% of parents asked said that it is currently much more difficult to find appropriate child care than before, and 59% are more concerned about their child’s care than in years previous.
As Child Care Aware reports, from Dec. 2019 to March 2021 a total of 8,899 child care centers closed in 37 states — and as of March 2021, almost 16,000 child care programs had closed during the pandemic. In that same time period, 6,957 licensed family child care (FCC) programs (home-based care) closed in 36 states. These figures represent a 9% loss in licensed centers and a 10% loss in licensed FCC programs. According to CNN, the median wage earned by child care workers was $13 an hour in 2021, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Quoted by CNN, MomsRising executive director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner said, “Already, a half million families in the United States of America are estimated to be without child care because of lack of access and affordability.” She added, “With increasing pressure due to inflation, even more families are getting stranded without child care.”
Some Parents Forced to Reduce Working Hours, Quit Their Job, or Find a Second Job
With inflation at 40-year high and care workers hard to come by, many parents are at a crossroads, with some electing to change how they work and pay for child care expenses. Care.com reports that 31% of parents surveyed are dealing with the increased expense by taking a second job, 26% are reducing their hours at work, 25% have changed jobs, and 21% have stopped working altogether.
The toll on parents is demanding, as it is for those working day-to-day in the industry. Baltimore’s KidzStuff Childcare Center CEO Angela Kidane says her center will reluctantly be raising tuition for the third time in 12 months this fall due to the soaring costs of food, rent, power and supplies. It has come to a point where not upping fees would result in the center having to close.
“We probably are up at least 30-to-35% in operating costs,” Kidane told CNN. “What goes through my mind is, how’s that going to affect our parents? We’re going to have to pass on the cost.”
“It’s not easy for us to have to do this, but it is a necessity,” Kidane solemnly added. “We couldn’t survive. We wouldn’t stay open.”
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