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Most Parents Spend Over 20% of Their Income on Child Care

By Ella Ceron

The cost of child care is rising, and it’s causing parents to reassess whether they’ll have more children.

More than half of parents of children younger than 15 reported spending 20% or more of their household income on child care last year, a survey from child care hiring site found, an increase from the 31% who said the same in 2019. That cost exceeds the 7% threshold the US Department of Health and Human Services uses as a benchmark definition for affordable child care. It may get worse: 58% of families said they’d spend upwards of $10,000 on childcare this year, compared to the 45% who said they’d spend that much or more in 2019.

Photo by RODNAE Productions:

More than 30% of parents said they’re considering taking a second job to help pay for rising child care costs, and 20% said they may leave the workforce to provide care themselves. The ability to pay for child care is also changing family planning, with 43% of respondents who say they’re less likely to have more children attributing it to rising costs.

Read More: How Child Care Became the Most Broken Business in America

Paying for a nanny was the costliest form of child care for many parents at an average of nearly $700 a week. Child care centers, family care centers and after-school care each cost more than $200 weekly.

Parents said it is growing more difficult to find quality care, even if they can pay for it. Child care workers are increasingly leaving the industry due to low pay, few benefits and a workload exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Around 9,000 child care centers also closed between December 2019 and March 2021, a report published by Child Care Aware of America found.

These factors keep parents, and especially mothers, out of the workforce for longer which can impact consumer spending and the broader economy, said Natalie Mayslich, the president of consumer and enterprise at

 “We’ve all seen what happens when parents can’t work,” Mayslich said. “Making child care more affordable and accessible has to be a priority for all.”

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