Report Shows Child Care Outpaces Nearly All Other Family Expenses Nationwide

December 12, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC — Child Care Aware® of America today released its annual Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2017 report, which found that child care is unaffordable in all 50 states.

Child Care Aware® of America, the nation’s leading advocate for quality, affordable child care, found that child care fees for two children in 2016 exceeded mortgage payments in 35 states and the District of Columbia; while average annual cost for an infant in center-based care was higher than a year at a four-year public college in 28 states and the District of Columbia.  

Massachusetts was the least affordable state this year for center-based care for both infants and toddlers. Utah, Oregon, Minnesota, New York, Washington, and Hawaii round out the nation’s most unaffordable states for infant and toddler child care.

New in this year’s report are county-level costs for seven states (Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Hampshire) through our interactive map.  We have also included expanded reporting on the average cost of summer child care for school-aged children. A more detailed supplement will be released in 2018.

Highlights of Child Care Aware® of America 11th annual cost of care report include:   

  • In every state, the average cost of center-based infant care is more than 27 percent of median income for single parents, an increase of three percentage points from 2016.
  • Even for families of three earning double the federal poverty threshold (or $40,320), child care is a significant burden. Center-based infant care ranges from almost 13 percent of income for a low-income family in Mississippi to nearly 50 percent in Massachusetts.
  • In our first analysis of a national average cost of child care, we found that couples across the country pay more than 10% of their household income, for a year of child care for one child -- that’s nearly $9,000 a year, no matter how you calculate it.

“Making quality child care affordable and available to every family is vital to our economy,” said Lynette Fraga, executive director of Child Care Aware® of America. “Since 60 percent of children under age six have both parents in the workforce and working mothers make up 40% of the workforce, the lack of quality, affordable care hurts most children. Congress has a real opportunity, as it weighs tax reform, to provide relief to working families struggling with child care costs.”

Child Care Aware® of America works with state Child Care Resource and Referral organizations to track the cost of care for children by age and setting, then compares each state’s costs to its median income, ranking the states by affordability for each category of care. Child Care Aware® of America’s interactive map shows the relationship between costs and median income by state. The organization has also partnered with the Economic Policy Institute to add this year’s data to an online interactive calculator of child care expenses by area.

For 30 years, CCAoA has been the leading voice for quality, affordable child care in the United States. While CCAoA continues to pursue our vision of the future in which every family in the United States has access to a high quality and affordable child care system, the sharing of accurate and updated information remains critical.

More than 11 million children under the age of five are in some form of child care in the United States; roughly 35 percent of children in care under age five are in child care centers. As the nation’s leading voice for child care, CCAoA is comprised of 125,000 online advocates from across the country and more than 32,000 members. More than 250 parents have shared their stories with lawmakers through their Family Advocacy Summit and Day on The Hill. For child care providers, they offer trainings on emergency preparedness as well as technical assistance that emphasize health, nutrition and obesity prevention and more.

To learn more about Child Care Aware® of America’s advocacy efforts visit, and visit to view the full Parents and the High Cost of Child Care report. And you can follow the movement for child care on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using @ChildCareWorks.

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About Child Care Aware® of America
Child Care Aware® of America is our nation’s leading voice for child care. CCAoA works with state and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&Rs) and other community partners to ensure that all families have access to quality, affordable child care. CCAoA leads projects that increase the quality and availability of child care, offer comprehensive training to child care professionals, undertake research, and advocate for child care policies that improve the lives of children and families. To learn more, visit Follow them on Twitter @USAChildCare and on Facebook at


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Topics: Policy & Advocacy, News

Rae Pickett

Written by Rae Pickett

RaeAnn is the Sr. Manager of Public Relations at CCAoA. Her work has solidified relationships with outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Univision, NPR, O, The Oprah Magazine, TIME, CNN Espanol, Buzzfeed News, POLITICO The Miami Herald, The San Antonio Express-News, ImpreMedia and many state and local ventures.