Child care costs rose from 2011 to 2012, and now the price of infant child care exceeds the average cost of food in every region of the U.S.
According to a new report from Child Care Aware of America, the cost of child care rose 2.7 percent for an infant and 2.6 percent for a 4-year-old from 2011 to 2012. In-home care went up 3.7 percent for infants and 4.8 percent for 4-year-olds.
The cost is more than the annual median rent in every state and exceeds the average mortgage payment in 19 states plus Washington D.C.
Putting two children into full-time child care is now the biggest expense for a household in the American Northeast, Midwest, and South, and is exceeded in the West only by housing expenses.
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Infant child care costs more than public college tuition in 31 states and D.C.
The report found that costs are as high as $16,430 a year for full-time care for an infant in Massachusetts to a low of $4,863 in Mississippi. The state-to-state disparity arises from the level of quality control standards in the state.
"In order to meet those (standards), it costs money," said Jessica Klos Shapiro, public policy and communications coordinator at the nonprofit Early Care & Learning Council in New York.
Nearly half of American families have two working parents and one quarter are single-parent households. While the Department of Health and Human Services says the most affordable Child care spending should be 10 percent of the family’s income, infant care is more than 25 percent of the median income in every state for single parents and full-time infant care is seven to 19 percent of a married couple’s annual income.
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Sequestration took $69 million out of subsidies from low-income families in 2013, and even more will be deducted next year.