Coping with the Rising Cost of Quality Child Care

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By: J. Glenn Hopkins, President/CEO

No doubt about it, child care is expensive and getting more expensive with each passing day.  In Virginia, child care tuition consumes 37% of the median income of a single parent and 12% of a two-parent family.  In many states, child care tuition now exceeds that of community college.

Tuition at the Hopkins House Preschool Academy, while not the lowest available, is a great value for the high-quality of educational services provided to our "Young Scholars". We know this from our annual Preschool Parent Satisfaction Survey; fewer than 2% of parents with children attending the Hopkins House Preschool Academy indicate tuition cost as a concern. 

Through robust fundraising and the tremendous generosity of our many donors, we work hard to maintain and enhance the high quality of our preschool services while remaining accessible to working parents. Our preschool academy budget is heavily subsidized by charitable gifts and donations from donors and, to ensure that children from low-resourced, working and military families have access to our academy, donors contribute over $200,000 a year for scholarships and tuition assistance for our preschoolers (See my previous blog on the importance of these scholarships).
 
In addition, through our public education activities, we strive to keep elected officials and public policy makers aware of the importance of and growing need for more government assistance to help families afford the rising cost of quality care for their children. Multiple studies, including a recent one by Partnership for America's Economic Success, have shown that public investment in quality child care can reap significant longterm savings for taxpayers, and has the added benefit of being smart social policy.

As an institution we are firmly committed to a socio-economically diverse student body in our preschool academy. Our experience, over many years, has shown that children learn more when they are in classrooms with peers of various incomes and backgrounds. A third of the Young Scholars enrolled at our academy are African-American, another third are White, and the remaining third are Hispanic and other ethnicities. More than half receive scholarships or tuition assistance. And, our graduates consistently score among the highest on Virginia's Standards of Learning Test (SOL) and show pronounced acquisition of verbal and other skills critical to later educational and social achievement.  
 
Parents appreciate the social and intellectual benefits of this diversity to their children and routinely recommend the Hopkins House Preschool Academy to their friends and colleagues, which is one reason Hopkins House has a long and ever-growing list of parents eagerly seeking to enroll their children in our academy.
 
Earlier this month, PBS Newshour aired a story about the rising cost of child care in America.  The broadcast featured three families whose stories represent the millions of families in the U.S. who have elected to quit work rather than pay the high cost of quality child care.  It's a broadcast well worth watching.

We'd like to know what you think about the cost of quality child care in America today, in particular:
  • How are you affording or not affording the rising cost? 
  • What role do you think government should play in helping families afford quality child care?
  • Have you ever considered quitting work rather than paying for child care?
We would love to hear from you.  Watch the PBS Newshour broadcast by clicking here, then share your comments below.

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