Child care is one of the biggest expenses families face. A new series of interactive fact sheets details the high cost of child care in every state, looking at the average cost of care for an infant and a 4-year-old and how child care fits into a family’s typical budget. In many states, child care is more expensive than rent, and even in-state tuition for a 4-year public college.
“The impacts from public investment in making child care more affordable would reverberate throughout the economy,” said EPI senior economist Elise Gould. “Children would do better later on in life, families would have more money to spend, child care workers would be able to earn a living, and the economy as a whole would be better off.”
In a companion paper, EPI researchers call for ambitious public investments to make high-quality child care more affordable and accessible.
“Simply put, high-quality child care is out of reach for many families,” said EPI research assistant Tanyell Cooke. “This crisis is not limited to low-income families, nor is it unique to certain parts of the country. It affects everyone, in every state, and only a bold solution will fix it.”
Despite the high cost of quality child care, child care workers are among the lowest paid workers in the country. The fact sheets illustrate that in many metro areas, the majority of child care workers do not earn enough to afford the basic cost of living in their area.
The fact sheets also show how much families in each state would save if child care were capped at 10 percent of family income—the Department of Health and Human Services’ current definition of affordable—and how, by allowing more women to enter the labor force, these investments would contribute to state economies. Nationally, investments that brought child care down to this level of affordability could boost GDP by as much $210 billion.