Daycare cost per child: How Much Childcare Costs by State in the USA in 2023 | Illumine
The cost of child care in Wisconsin
WISCONSIN — The average annual cost of child care in Wisconsin can be more expensive than college, according to the latest Wisconsin Policy Forum report.
What You Need To Know
- Annual costs for child care in Wisconsin can be more expensive than college
- Data from the Department of Children and Families’ 2022 Child Care Market Rate Survey showed that in Milwaukee County, the average annual child care cost for a 4-year-old is $12,142
- These costs exceed federal recommendations, which state that no more than 7% of a household’s income should go toward child care
- Gov. Tony Evers, during his latest budget address, called for $340 million toward child care programs
Data from the Department of Children and Families’ 2022 Child Care Market Rate Survey showed that in Milwaukee County, the average annual child care cost for a 4-year-old is $12,142; for an infant, it’s $16,236.
Comparably, the annual tuition cost at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 2022 to 2023 was $9,273.
These child care costs exceed federal recommendations, which state that no more than 7% of a household’s income should go toward care.
In Milwaukee County, 22.2% of the 2021 annual median household income went toward care for a four-year-old. That percentage is even higher for care of an infant.
Even though Wisconsin provides supports for qualifying families to help cover a portion of their cost, officials found that still wasn’t enough.
For example, the report looked at a Milwaukee County family with two children, one an infant and the other a 4-year-old, with a median household of around $54,793. The children in this example receive care at a two-star center (meaning it meets health and safety standards) that charges an average tuition rate for Milwaukee County.
Without help, the cost for that care per month would be $2,248, equating to 49. 2% of the family’s monthly income.
The family, although barely, qualifies for the Wisconsin Shares Child Care Subsidy Program.
With this help, they’d pay a minimum of $395 a month, or 8.7% of their monthly income. While this percentage is much lower, it’s still above the federal recommendation of 7%.
The family of four in the example, however, is only about $700 shy of having too high of a median household income to qualify for the program. If they earn more than $55,500, their subsidy would significantly decrease despite remaining financially eligible for the assistance. As such, there are many families who may not even qualify for the Wisconsin Shares program based on their income. In this case, they’d be responsible for the full amount.
Policy officials said these high costs may become a larger burden for employers in the state.
“At a certain point, when the cost of child care gets too high or combines with other considerations, a family may choose to keep an adult at home as a caretaker, essentially sacrificing wages and career opportunities for the sake of eliminating child care costs and meeting other goal,” said officials in the report.
Despite these high costs, child care workers are also struggling to earn a living wage. Lead educators in Milwaukee County early an average annual salary of only $24,981, which is equivalent to about $12.01 an hour, according to Wisconsin Policy Forum.
Even with low wages and high costs, Wisconsin Policy Forum officials said many centers will still see a low annual net revenue, which is the difference between the money being brought in and center expenses.
The reason for this is low staff-to-child ratios. Wisconsin’s state law dictates that each adult can only be responsible for a maximum number of children. As the age of the children rises, so does the maximum number that can be watched by one adult.
For example, one single adult can supervise 13 4-year-olds but only four infants.
These ratios, according to officials, mean that centers “must invest heavily in staffing.” Revenue from tuition then can only go so far after it needs to be split among staff member for pay. That also explains the lack of high net revenue for centers.
In Wisconsin Policy Forum’s model, they found that about half of center expenses went toward personnel, including wages, benefits, training fees and more. The rest went toward expenses like food and kitchen supplies, rent, maintenance and more.
The burden of these costs only increased for centers earning a five-star rating, which is the highest in the official YoungStar rating scale.
Wisconsin Policy Forum estimated that salary costs for a five-star center were 68.7% higher than the two-star center. Tuition was also more expensive, rising by 21.3%.
It’s easy to see how this increase would further strain families’ bank accounts. Without assistance, the same two-child, two-parent family referenced earlier would pay $2,717 per month for care at this facility, or 59.9% of its monthly income.
Rising costs are also coupled with the end of the Child Care Counts program, which was launched in 2020 to drive federal funds toward supplementing licensed child care. Those dollars will run out in December if lawmakers decide to not use funds to continue support of the program.
Gov. Tony Evers, during his latest budget address, called for $340 million toward child care programs.
Wisconsin Policy Forum said including this money in the budget may be the best way to combat costs.
“Given the state’s sizable budget surplus and overall sound financial health, the upcoming two-year budget offers the best opportunity in decades to ensure that high-quality, affordable early childhood care and education is available for all Wisconsin residents,” said officials.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article had an incorrect amount of money Gov. Evers’ budget proposal would allocate towards child care programs. The error has been corrected. (May 22, 2023)
Child care expenses are ‘crippling,’ say Boston.com readers
Many readers support Sen.
Elizabeth Warren’s Childcare for Every Community Act.
Amy McCoy serves lunch to preschoolers at her Forever Young Daycare facility, Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, in Mountlake Terrace, Wash. The Associated Press
By Kristi Palma
Boston.com readers are stressed over child care costs, according to a Boston.com poll. A recently filed federal proposal led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, called the Child Care for Every Community Act, could provide Bay State families relief.
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The proposal would fully subsidize child care expenses for families making less than 75% of their state’s median income and cap child care expenses for high-income families at 7% of their household income.
A Mass. family making $130,125 would pay $200 a month under the proposal, according to Warren, rather than the current average of $3,128 a month. More than half of American families would pay just $10 a day for child care.
Of the 291 readers who responded to our poll, 71% pay for daycare, 11% pay for pre-K, and 7% pay for a nanny. Most said the costs were too high for their family.
“It’s inconceivable that the cost of child care is nearly equal to one parent’s monthly salary (and that salaries for child care workers are so low, but that’s another issue),” wrote A.R. from Ashland. “My partner and I both have good, well-paying jobs, but once we enroll in child care, we will have little to no disposable income, and our salaries will go entirely to our mortgage, utilities, and child care.”
What type of child care do you use?
“We pay $2,000 per month per child and $3,000 per month for our infant,” wrote Michael from Burlington. “Two kids and one infant come to $7,000 per month that we are paying. It is outrageous and most days it doesn’t seem worth working for.”
Many Boston.com readers support Warren’s proposal. Ahead, Boston.com readers share their thoughts about it.
Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
‘It would drastically help my family’
“I work from home so I don’t have any other option but to put my 18-month-old into daycare so I can work to pay for daycare and keep our health insurance for the family. With this proposal, it would drastically help my family be able to pay off other debts and live more comfortably financially.” — Kerry from Billerica, who pays $2,050 per month
“Warren’s proposal is MUCH needed! The cost of childcare is crippling. We pay $72,000 per year for twin infants.” — Greg W. from Hyde Park, who pays $6,000 per month
“We pay $90 a day, 4 days a week. If our son is home sick, we still pay. This would be life-changing for us, especially if we are lucky enough to have another baby. While we are incredibly blessed with our son, the cost of daycare is equivalent to a second mortgage.” — Chris from Holden, who pays $1,500 per month
“I would love Senator Warren’s proposal, or something similar, to pass. We are having to take equity out of our home to pay for two kids in daycare. It is important that child care workers are paid a fair wage, but the current system is not sustainable for most people.” — Chris from Stoneham, who pays $3,700 per month
“Anything that can be done to curb these rising child care costs would be a welcome relief.” — Sean E. from Natick, who pays $4,700 per month
“While both my husband and I make good money, child care still takes over 12% of our pre-tax income. There aren’t many cheaper options, and long waiting lists make any comparison shopping a challenge. I work in healthcare and having a reliable daycare for the past few years has been essential to allow me to go to work. We feel lucky to have a spot in a great daycare (now pre-school and pre-K) for our child and that we are able to pay. However, we can’t reasonably afford a second child at these rates. I support the proposal. If you want a thriving, vibrant economy you need adults at work. In order for them to work, there needs to be affordable child care and affordable for those making less than $150,000 a year as a household.” — B. from Newton, who pays $2,210 per month (which will increase to $2,300 next year)
“I am currently paying $16,000 per year in daycare/child care costs and that’s at only four days a week. As a single mother on a single income, this means I am unable to save money for my son for the future. I am lucky to have a stable, management-level corporate career but I still feel the financial burden of child care costs every day. I think Warren’s proposal is amazing — it would allow me to save money for my son’s future/college or have money for emergencies with my house, etc. ” — Jessica L. from Franklin, who pays $1,350 per month
“This would be absolutely life-changing for my family. We are going to welcome our second child in the summer, and I am facing the reality of spending literally 100% of my take-home pay (as a professional engineer) on child care for both children. My oldest son is a September baby, so I will have to wait an entire extra school year before he is eligible for public school. We made an intentional effort to time the birth of our second child for August, just so we would be eligible for public school one year sooner.” — Stefanie from Somerville, who pays $2,040 per month
“Paying for child care has been extremely stressful for my husband and I since we started our family. It keeps us from doing so many other things and we live paycheck to paycheck despite being contracted public workers for over a decade. If this plan passes it would relieve so much stress for my family and literally change our lives for the better, financially, physically, and mentally. ” Angela K. from North Andover, who pays $2,908 per month
“Our daycare in Metrowest costs more than our mortgage, and it’s not even close. We’ve had to reduce our savings per month, reduce our 401k contributions, eliminate the savings for our children’s college funds, and put many other items on hold until the kids are out of daycare…just to pay for both our mortgage and our daycare. If this proposal goes through, we could finally start preparing for our future, our children’s future, and actually have money left over at the end of the month. It would change our lives.” — Eric J. of Framingham, who pays $3,935 per month
“We’re expecting our second child any day now. We currently have one child in daycare and we’re just skating by. However, we will not be able to afford the cost of care for two children. We’ve made the difficult decision that one of us is going to have to give up our career to take care of our children due to the extravagant expense of daycare. This is not an ideal situation either as our income will be cut in half. This proposal would be a godsend.” — Kristen from Weymouth, who pays $1,500 per month
“I was recently paying over $40,000 per year for two children in a center-based daycare program. They have a good program, and certainly are preparing my children for elementary school, but the costs are absurd. I support proposals for limiting and controlling costs for families, but I also know that the staff are not well compensated and this is very important to improve as well.” — Anonymous from Franklin, who pays $2,000 per month
Against the proposal
“Against it. The proposal does not fix the underlying issue. Increase child care tax credit. Those that pay more in child care receive a bigger tax credit.” — George from Boston, who pays $3,500 per month
“Foolish, another way to pass along tax burdens. If you can’t afford to support your kids don’t look for another free federal ride. Where/ who do I contact to get my refund for my years of daycare expenses? Let’s offer them all free education and college as well.” Stephen S. from Watertown, who pays $1,800 per month
“Warren’s proposal is just completely unrealistic for daycares to operate on and pay their teachers fairly. My child is in daycare for more hours in the day than I’m at work. His daycare provides 2 meals and a snack for what I pay for. The teachers are engaged in caring for my child and teaching him. Warren’s proposal would jeopardize the level of care and safety for children.” — P.L. from Acton, who pays $2,080 per month
“Instead of just throwing entitlement spending at the problem, I’d prefer that she worked to understand the fundamental issues that make child care more expensive in this state than others to make it more affordable for everyone.” — Heath from Charlestown, who pays $3,300 per month
“People who have children should be responsible and fund the care of those children. My husband and I make decent incomes and therefore can afford daycare. Those who cannot should reconsider having children. Why do taxpayers need to foot the bill for others’ personal problems?” — Kat from Cohasset, who pays $1,400 per month
‘Sounds too good to be true’
“This sounds like a dream, but where is the funding coming from, and what does this do to the quality of child care and child care providers?” — Anonymous from Boston who pays $5,500 per month
“Sounds too good to be true. Where will the money come from and how will it ensure appropriate pay for child care workers? Of course, I’d love to pay less! I just want to understand the details and also be sure the child care workers I trust with my child will be paid a living wage commensurate with their skills and experience.” — Tiffany K. from Boston, who pays $2,000 per month
“What Warren is proposing sounds great, but too good to be true. What is the catch? $200 per month is almost too drastic. I feel this is going to incentivize families to work less to stay under the $130k cap to get this significantly reduced cost. Will there be requirements that both parents need to work full time?” — Colleen from Westford, who pays $3,500 per month
“Yes, the price of child care feels ridiculous. You are basically paying college tuition prices for toddler care. And as a result of those prices, it is easy to see why families choose to have a parent stay home. I mean, at the prices we pay around Boston, if you have two kids in child care you need to make at least $70k in pre-tax income just to break even. So in that sense, the idea of capping the expense seems like a good idea. But, like many Warren proposals, I have concerns about the practicality. Daycares are already having a hard enough time keeping and retaining staff so how are they going to remain whole? Do we really think the companies that run these daycares are going to be ok with making less money? If there is a government subsidy who is paying for that? I have serious doubts.