“Many families are priced out of licensed child care services… the health and safety of those children are at risk.” –Lynette Fraga CNN Money
Raising a child will cost families more than $240,000 before a child’s 18th birthday an August 2013 US Department of Agriculture report showed.
The second biggest expense in that $240,000? Child care and education – not including college.
Child care is one of the biggest costs to raising children
Between 1960 and 2012, child care and education expenses went from 2 percent of the cost to raise a child, to 18 percent. Child care and education takes up a bigger chunk of the pie than healthcare and food. Child care and education is the second biggest expense behind housing.
Families are forced to make tough choices as the cost of child care continues to rise and wages stay the same or go down. But there is an even bigger unknown than child care costs. What is the quality of the child care program?
Quality child care too expensive for some
We know many parents turn to unlicensed child care settings because licensed care can be more expensive. Unlicensed programs are not required to meet basic state health and safety standards. Their providers are not required to complete a comprehensive background check and their buildings are not required to be regularly inspected. That leaves children to chance.
Quality requires Accountability
In the United States, nearly 11 million children under age 5 are in child care each week and although child care costs are high, most states have inadequate requirements for the quality of care. Currently, the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which provides funds to states to help make child care more affordable for families, does not require that funds be used to pay for licensed care.
Child Care Aware® of America is pushing for the passage of the CCDBG reauthorization, Senate Bill 1086, that would raise the standards for quality child care in this nation.
The costs to raise a child are high. But the risk of unlicensed child care is even higher.
Three things you can do now:
• Stay tuned for our 2013 Cost of Care Report and spread the word about the need for quality child care.
• Send a message to your congressional member about CCDBG
• Sign up for weekly updates on all things child care
Lynette is the Executive Director of Child Care Aware® of America