Study: Day Care Is More Expensive Than College

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The cost of childcare is skyrocketing, according to an association of child care referral agencies. One of the big concerns my husband and I have had as we’ve secured child care for our children is whether it would even make financial sense. Sometimes, when I’m pounding out a book review for pennies a word, I think that I should be getting into the childcare business instead.

What works for us is part-time care in our home. For many families where the parents’ work is away from the home and inflexible, the only option is day care or a nanny.

Fox News reports that Washington, D.C., where we lived until last year, has the most expensive average annual rates for infant day care at $18,200 a year. That’s almost four times what you’d pay in Mississippi, for instance. Overall, the cost of child care has gone up 1.9 percent in the last year.

Parents are feeling the pinch. Gary Walker has had two sons in a day care center and laments the high cost.

“In our budget, it’s the second highest line item if you will, second only to our mortgage,” he said. “An astounding amount of money goes out to just caring for our children every month.”

Day care centers too are trying to stay afloat in a difficult economy. Those who run the facilities say their food and labor costs are going up, and they are trying to keep their clients onboard despite rate increases. …

“We’re seeing more cases where families are trying to split the childcare by going to one parent working during the day and one working nights,” said Linda Smith with NACCRRA.

Smith says other trends include parents enlisting the help of grandparents and other relatives to defray childcare costs, neighbors or friends pooling their resources in less formal, less expensive child care options and parents having to dip into their savings.

I just spoke with a friend today who is headed back to work and is engaging in a child care swap. My husband and I do the day-night shift thing (which seems like a slightly less awesome idea after a few years!). And I always recommend to people that they move near their parents or other family when children arrive. My husband and I average about 2500 miles distance from our parents. Not the best situation.

In any case, at least this news that day care costs more than college helps parents prepare for higher education costs early!