Child care costs rise as report suggests government not doing enough to offset expenses

The average cost of child care nationwide for one child in 2023 was $11,582.
Posted at 12:19 PM, May 15, 2024

In most of the U.S., the cost of sending two children to child care centers exceeds any other living expense, according to new data released by Child Care Aware.

According to the data, the average cost of child care for a family with two children — an infant and a 4-year-old surpassed the cost of housing in the Midwest, South, and Northeast in 2023. The data indicated that a family with two children in the Northeastern U.S. paid an average of $32,614 a year on child care compared to $27,433 for housing in 2023.

The average cost of child care nationwide for one child was $11,582 in 2023, a 3.7% increase from the previous year.

The report notes the average child care professional makes $30,360 a year. Depending on the state, it would take anywhere from 59% to over 100% of their income for a child care professional to send two of their own children to a center.

The expense of placing one child through child care costs the typical married couple over 10% of their income. For single parents, that share jumps to over 30%. Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced a new rule capping child care costs at 7% of a family's household income for those enrolled in the Child Care and Development Fund.

Child Care Aware recommended that the federal government should do more to help families afford child care.

"The pandemic illuminated how indispensable child care is for the well-being and economic security of our children, families, and communities, while simultaneously revealing the system’s many gaps," the report says. "However, child care has been under-resourced for decades, contributing to the current inadequate supply of high-quality programs and a situation where too many families are priced out of the system. This is a challenge we can’t afford to ignore."

Child Care Aware has a state-by-statebreakdown of costs on its website.