If you have a young child, it is no surprise that Parents.com says, “Child care is a significant household expense for most families.” In fact, the ChildCare Aware 2002 report found that “the national annual average cost of child care is around $10,174.” If you have more than one child, you could easily pay more for child care than you do for housing. In a 2021 survey, Penny Hoarder found that “four out of 10 parents say they have gone into debt due to the high cost of child care.” Then, some take on a side gig to cover the cost of childcare. Even with remote work, you’re going to need child care. And, with the costs climbing each year, as reported by Care.com, waiting for costs to come down is not going to do it.
The high and rising cost of quality childcare is due to a combination of factors, with scarcity being the largest. It’s also expensive because the reality is that individual childcare providers need to charge enough to cover their own housing and medical costs. At the same time, centers need to cover salaries and rent. Also, for infant care, the number of babies per worker is limited, requiring more workers, which results in a higher cost for infant care. It’s no wonder many parents struggle to cover the costs and come out ahead.
So what can you do to cut costs?
- Ask a friend or relative to watch your child. You will be ahead of the game if you have someone you trust and can depend on, even if you pay them the minimum wage.
- Share a sitter or nanny with another family. You can either have both kids together at one home or split hours of days between homes.
- Consider an Au Pair. Au Pair in America says that an Au Pair will live in, come with a minimum of 200 hours of training, and perform household duties related to the child. Fees include an annual program fee per family and a minimum weekly stipend for the Au Pair. Still, the approximately $10,000 fee is per family rather than per child.
- Create a village in the form of a babysitting group where parents take turns watching the children. This can be ideal if you can find parents with schedules that match the hours you need.
- Explore any funding or other options provided by your employer. Also, take advantage of paying with pre-tax dollars and taking any credits available to you at tax time.
Be sure to consider all of the costs when making your decision. Among these are the time, mileage, and stress of traveling to and from your childcare provider, as well as what you’ll do on days you need to work, and the childcare is closed, or your sitter is not working that day. Alleviating these costs and pressures may tip the balance to one option over another.
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