Child care costs continue to represent a larger and larger chunk of the family budget, even, as announced Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income showed no increase in 2012 and the number of U.S. residents living in poverty remained flat.
“With household income stagnant and the poverty rate remaining at 15 percent, the need for families to have access to safe, affordable, quality child care is more critical than ever,” said Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., Executive Director of Child Care Aware® of America. “Quality child care isn’t just an investment in children, but an investment in the working families who support the national economy.”
Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012 showed median household income in the United States in 2012 was $51,017, not statistically different in real terms from the 2011 median of $51,100. The number of people in poverty went up from 46.2 million in 2011 to 46.5 million in 2012.
While household incomes remain flat, families are paying more and more for child care and education – now making up 18 percent of a family’s budget, according to a 2013 U.S. Department of Agriculture report. Child care and education take up a larger share of the family budget than health care and food, and is the second biggest expense behind housing.
Child Care Aware® of America’s upcoming report, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2013 Update, reveals that child care is costly compared to other household expenses. In 2012, in 31 states and the District of Columbia, the average annual cost for an infant in center-based care was higher than a year’s tuition and fees at a four-year public college. Center-based child care fees for an infant even exceeded annual median rent payments in 21 states and the District of Columbia.
Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2013 Update outlines several recommendations to federal and state governments to help families access and afford quality child care so that children’s safety and healthy development are not jeopardized. The report will be released this fall.