When my daughter was young, I hired a series of nannies until I found one who was reliable.
It was an ordeal.
I wanted so desperately to leave my daughter with someone who I could trust. I also wanted so desperately to keep my job, which in the news business meant unpredictable hours. To land the perfect nanny — one that didn't fall asleep on the job or show up an hour late – I painfully forked over more than half of my paycheck.
So, it's not at all surprising to me that other working parents are desperate to find high quality, low-cost child care. When I read an article in the Wall Street Journal today about the high cost of childcare, it disgusted me, but didn't really surprise me.
In nearly half the country(23 states), it’s now more expensive to educate a 4-year-old in preschool than an 18-year-old in college, according to the Wall Street Journal. The largest disparity between the cost to attend day care and the cost to attend college resides in Florida, my home state, according to Economic Policy Institute data.The average child care costs in Florida are $ 7,668 a year, making it 73 percent more expensive to care for a 4-year-old in Florida than for a student to attend college.
“High-quality child care is out of reach for many families,” said Economic Policy Institute research assistant Tanyell Cooke. “This crisis is not limited to low-income families, nor is it unique to certain parts of the country. It affects everyone, in every state.”
It's not just full time childcare that's costly. If you're a working parent who needs after-school care, get ready to pay a lot of money for a few hours of supervision.
Costs have risen to the point where parents need to do the math and consider child care costs when offered a salary to determine if taking a job is worth it. And, if you're a parent who works off hours, like an evening shift or a Saturday, finding after hours child care can be a huge scramble and an expensive endeavor. A blog post I wrote many years ago about where to find after hours child care remains one of the most well read.
For single mothers the cost of daycare is a GIANT problem when women are paid 75 cents for every dollar men are paid. I wonder how many bosses have considered that when doling out raises or making job offers.
What can be done about rising childcare costs?
Some ideas are pay parents bigger salaries, subsidize the cost of childcare, open more government-funded childcare centers, encourage more businesses to build onsite childcare centers.
I am sure there are more possibilities. It's time our country considers what those solutions could be.