Child Care Costs Through the Roof

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By: J. Glenn Hopkins, President/CEO

If you are a working parent with a child under the age of 5, you already know that the cost of child care has not merely gone through the roof but blown it away. If you are a child care professional, you already know that you earn so little, you can't even afford a house, let alone one with a roof. 

According to a recently published report, the average cost of full-time, center-based child care in the U.S. now exceeds the average annual cost of in-state college tuition. Parents pay an average of $9,589 per child -- nearly a fifth of annual median household income and 85 percent of the yearly median cost of rent.
Average Cost of Child Care in Washington, DC Metro
[Source: Boston Globe]
State/Jurisdiction Infants 3-Year Olds
District of Columbia $21,948 $16,908
Maryland $13,055 $9,097
Virginia $10,028 $7,855
The median pay for child care workers in this country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $20,320 -- just $230 above the 2015 federal poverty line for a family of three. 

That the child care system in the United States is in crisis is not new news. In 1971, Congress attempted to overhaul the system only to have its legislation vetoed by President Richard Nixon (may he rest in peace).  Our current President, Barack Obama, has spoken frequently about the need to improve the way this country cares for our youngest citizens but Congress, this time, is the roadblock.

The two major party political candidates vying for the White House have offered competing visions of how to deal with this problem. Donald Trump promises, if elected, to let parents deduct child care expenses from their income taxes, up to an amount equivalent to the average cost of care in their state.  Hillary Clinton promises, if elected, to reform the child care system such that no family spends more than 10 percent of household income on child care.  Which vision, if either, will prevail, is among the great unknowns of this bizaar political season.

Nearly two-thirds of children under the age of 5 years old have both parents in the workforce. These children are the future of this country and, as our greatest natural resource, deserve our care and attention. The time has come for parents, and all Americans, to demand from their elected representatives, a safe, high quality child care system in this country, with well trained and appropriately compensated educators, that is affordable to working families.    


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