Study: High Cost Of Child Care Strains Family Budgets

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TRENTON – National spotlight on a report documenting the financial strain of child care underscores the experience of many New Jersey families struggling to meet the cost of care.

The latest national report, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2010 Update reveals that child care prices continue to rise, despite the nation’s economic downturn. In 2009, the New Jersey Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NJACCRRA) released The High Price of Child Care, a study that profiled the cost of care within licensed centers across the state. Child care is a major household expense for New Jersey parents.

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Specifically, the national report shows that in 2009:

  • The highest statewide average cost of full-time care for an infant in a center was $18,750 a year.
  • For a 4-year old in a center, parents paid an average up to $13,150 a year for full-time care.
  • Parents of school-age children paid an average up to $10,720 a year for part-time care in a center.

In short, the key findings show that:

  • Since 2000, the cost of child care has increased twice as fast as the median income of families with children.
  • The cost of care for an infant in a child care center is more than the cost of college tuition and related expenses in 40 states.
  • The high cost of child care forces parents to make difficult decisions about where they place their children for care.
  • As child care costs rise, parents are shifting their children from licensed programs to informal care that potentially compromises their safety, health, and school readiness.

“The cost of quality child care is out of reach for too many families,” said Elmoria Thomas, president of NJACCRRA, New Jersey’s network of child care resource and referral agencies. “It’s time to increase our public investment to make quality child care affordable to all families.”

In New Jersey, families earning the median household income spend between 13% and 19% of their income on infant care, depending on the county in which they live, with a state average of 17.1%. Families with four-year-olds are spending between 11% and 16% of their income on child care depending on their home county, with a state average of 13.9%.

Child care is particularly unaffordable for single parents. Female head of households spend between 25% and 47% of their income on full- time child care for an infant and between 19% and 40% of their income on child care for a four-year-old, depending on the county in which they reside. The state averages for female head of households is 36.4% for infant care and 29.6% for four-year old care.

“As a result of increasing child care costs and the current economy, some parents have been forced to perform a balancing act between supplying basic necessities or covering child care costs to remain in the workforce in order to have income to adequately provide for their families.” said Thomas.

In New Jersey, approximately 389,000 children under age six are in need of child care because their parents work. Studies repeatedly have shown that high-quality child care – care that provides a loving, safe, stable and age- appropriate stimulating environment – helps children enter school ready to learn.

To view a copy of the full report, visit www.njaccrra.org.


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