Here’s where child care is the most expensive: study

(NEXSTAR) — While the costs of many goods and services have largely held steady throughout the U.S. recently, there are some that remain expensive, putting a burden on many.

Among those is child care. The latest Consumer Price Index shows child care costs increased by nearly 3% between December 2022 and December 2023. Day care and preschool costs specifically are up 4.5% over the same period.

According to a report from Child Care Aware of America, a national membership organization that works with child care resources and referral agencies, the average cost of child care in 2022 was almost $10,900 per child. That’s up from about $9,400 in 2017.

The cost of child care does, of course, vary by state. GOBankingRates recently reviewed Child Care Aware of America and the U.S. Census Bureau data to find where child care costs the most nationwide. Specifically, they reviewed the median family income per state, the average cost of center-based and family child care, and the percentage of income needed for center-based child care.

Overall, the study found that no state offers affordable child care for kids 4 years old and younger (“affordable” is defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as 7% of your income).

Nowhere is that worse than Massachusetts, where GOBankingRates found the average parent could spend more than 17% of their income — about $20,000 — on center-based child care. It’s only slightly better in neighboring New York, where the average parent is spending 16.36%, or nearly $14,500, on center-based care, per child. California wasn’t far behind at 16.25%, or $14,776.

On the opposite end was South Dakota, where about 8.8% of the median income, or about $7,200, is spent on center-based child care — this is the only state where that rate is below 9%. Mississippi and North Dakota both came in below 10% at 9.8% and 9.88%, respectively.

The interactive map below shows the percentage of income needed to cover center-based child care by state, according to GOBankingRates’ findings.

When compared based on the cost of center-based child care, GOBankingRates found Mississippi had the lowest total at $5,768 per child. Nearby Arkansas had the next-most affordable bill at just over $7,000 — that, however, works out to about 11% of the median income in the state.

Center-based child care is the most expensive in Massachusetts, according to the study, costing more than $20,000 per child annually. That far exceeds Washington state, the second-most expensive at about $15,300.

In every state, however, GOBankingRate found that family child care — where children are cared for in a residential setting (sometimes called home child care) — is more affordable. It’s still more expensive in Massachusetts and Washington state, and most affordable in Mississippi, the study determined.

Relative to the median income, home child care is most costly in New Mexico at nearly 14%. Based on the percent of income needed, South Dakota has the most affordable rate at about 6.6%.

On average, center-based child care costs nearly $11,000 in the U.S., while family child care costs $8,500. You can see GOBankingRates’ full report here.

Some states have already approved their own funding for child care, like Minnesota, which approved more than a billion dollars last year in relief funds. In Virginia, more than a dozen bills and proposals focused on providing more funding for early childhood education and child care have been introduced, NewsNation reports.

To only exasperate the situation, advocates have warned that thousands of child care programs could shutter due to COVID-era funding expiring in October, which could make even finding child care — affordable or otherwise — harder to fine.

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