By Andrew Pillow
When a couple conceives a child, the initial excitement is typically followed by at least a little anxiety about finances. Eventually, that conversation turns to “saving for the kid’s college.” While the debate about college tuition should certainly be a priority for any young family, a new report suggests they should spend more time worrying about the cost of childcare.
According to a report by Child Care Aware® of America, families are struggling with the astronomically high cost of quality preschool or child care. Although some states are cheaper than others, the report found that childcare is a sizable chunk of the average family’s income everywhere:
“Despite the rising economy and promises of a great future, we are living in a country where most parents are struggling to afford one of the most significant expenses in their family budget - child care. The child care affordability story remains unchanged and in many homes across the country, child care costs exceed the cost of housing, college tuition, transportation, or food. Across all states, the average cost of center-based infant care exceeds 27 percent of the median income for single parents, an increase of 3 percentage points from our findings in the 2016 Parents and the High Cost of Care report.”
While the childcare debate is often framed as a budget and financial issue, it’s also a huge educational issue. Research shows pretty definitively, that children who participate in high-quality child care are better off. Obviously, childcare prepares children academically, but it also pays dividends behaviorally. A fact that isn’t lost on the authors of the report:
“Child care is more than a work support. When it’s of quality, it helps children learn and prepare for school and life. The research shows that the potential long-term benefits of quality care are many and includes adults that are more skilled, better educated, have better employment opportunities, and more stable families.”
Childcare, in particular preschool, is one of those things that virtually no politician openly claims to be against, but in reality, many states have trouble passing policies and measures to pay for, or subsidize the cost of childcare.
For example: Indiana has gone back and forth on how much childcare to pay for and where to pay for it. Not too coincidently, Indiana is also one of the least affordable states for infant and childcare according to this report.
If America is serious about educating our youth, they can’t wait until the compulsory age of education to start caring about them. Some parents are able to provide a high quality, stimulating environment for their children while still being productive members of the workforce, but many are not. This is a problem that needs to be remedied… starting with the costs.
Read the full report here. ( via: Child Care Aware®)