Study Finds Child Care Costs Have Risen More Than 40 Percent During the Pandemic

The soaring prices of child care have hit parents hard.

By: Amanda Mushro
A portrait of a group of  toddlers painting whilt their carer tidies.

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A portrait of a group of toddlers painting whilt their carer tidies.

Photo by: lostinbids

lostinbids

Before the pandemic, the hefty price tag of child care was already a financial burden for so many American families. However, as parents continue navigating Covid, they are seeing child care prices skyrocket.

According to a report from Lending Tree, the fees for center-based child care facilities have increased by 41%. On average, parents are paying $14,117, which is up from $9,977 pre-pandemic. The report goes on to say that households with children younger than five are especially hard hit by these price increases.

"The fact that these costs have skyrocketed in many places during the pandemic is just another punch in the gut for parents whose financial worlds have already been flipped upside down," says Matt Schulz, LendingTree's chief credit analyst. "Perhaps the most troubling part of this report is that the biggest cost increases are coming in states where people can likely least afford them. These states have some of the lowest average incomes in America, meaning that people likely have financial margins for error that are razor-thin."

While average childcare costs differ from state to state, the report did find that some states are being hit harder than others. Parents in Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana have seen the largest child care cost increases for kids three and four years old. In Indiana, parents with children younger than five are putting 20% of their income toward child care. In Vermont, it’s 19%.

States with the lowest increases are New Jersey, Mississippi, Kentucky, Texas, and North Dakota. In these states, households with children younger than five are putting 11% of their income (on average) towards child care.

So why are the costs going up? Experts say there are a number of factors. The facilities need to spend more time and money on cleaning and adhering to Covid precautions, like taking temperatures and ensuring social distancing. These facilities may only allow a smaller number of children in each room, resulting in raised tuition to help cover these costs.

Consequently, many parents are turning to other child care options, like in-home daycares and learning pods, to save money.

“Keeping kids safe during a pandemic isn’t cheap,” Schulz says. “So much more is being required of these centers during the pandemic, and these new, tougher safety guidelines from governmental agencies have forced them to ramp up their spending in order to comply.”

For families who are looking for assistance with child care costs, there are financial assistance programs designed to help families during these difficult times. The amount offered to families varies from state to state, but it’s worth exploring if it can help ease the burden of the increases during Covid.

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