CCA Logo/Homepage link

Evaluating the Impact of Expensive Child Care on Families, Businesses, and the Economy

December 07, 2016



Child care is expensive—this fact is not new. In fact, our recently released 10th edition of the Parents and the High Cost of Child Care report reveals a continued trend of the burden that families face in finding and funding quality child care, to include:

  • Millennial parents who are saddled with mountains of debt,
  • Grandparents who have to work and contribute significantly to child care,
  • Families who need child care coverage during the night shift or weekends,
  • Immigrant parents who have a desire to raise their young children to appreciate both their culture of origin and their new country,
  • Low income parents who desire quality child care to better their child’s long term outcomes but struggle to afford it, and
  • Parents of children with special needs who can’t find or access services to help their children at an affordable cost.

But just how expensive is child care? The latest report finds that the average cost for an infant in center-based care rivals the cost for one year of college tuition at a four year institution.  Further, the cost of full-time, center-based care for two children is the highest single household expense in most parts of the country. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently shared that child care should not cost families more than 7 percent of their income. Based on our findings, center-based infant care is unaffordable for families in 49 states, plus D.C. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. where families have access affordable infant care.

So why is this important? Ensuring child care is high-quality, affordable, and accessible for families is crucial to our nation’s ability to produce and sustain an economically viable, competitively positioned workforce in the future. Businesses suffer when child care is unavailable for working parents—to the tune of more than $4 billion annually. Research indicates that working families in the U.S. miss out on nearly $29 billion in lost wages when they don’t have access to child care. When quality child care is affordable and accessible, the positive impacts are felt by the child care workforce, parents in the workforce, the economy overall, and are ultimately demonstrated by children’s readiness and longer term success.

Want to learn more about child care costs in your state and across the country?  Download the Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2016 report and explore information on the cost and affordability of child care across the country, including county-level data for five states (New Hampshire, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Minnesota). A new interactive map also allows users to quickly access a variety of cost data for each state, including county-level data for four states.

Visit to download the 2016 Parents and High Cost of Child Care report and toolkit and explore the interactive map.

Webinar: Overview of Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2016 Report

Here is an in-depth look at the Cost of Child Care report. The webinar explores the cost of child care across the U.S., why this is especially difficult for families living at or below the federal poverty level, and how child care also affects businesses and ultimately the economy.

Topics: Systems Building, Workforce, Policy & Advocacy, Health & Safety, News

Lynette Fraga, Ph.D.

Written by Lynette Fraga, Ph.D.

Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., CEO of Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA), has been a passionate practitioner, advocate, and leader in the field of child care and early learning for more than 25 years. Dr. Fraga’s experience in Military Child Care, higher education, federal programs, and corporate and non-profit executive leadership distinguish her as a leader with subject matter expertise. Her experience working directly with children and families, educators, national leaders and federal officials positions Child Care Aware® of America to be the nation’s leading voice on child care in policy, practice and research.