Friday, August 16th, 2013
The average American family will spend more than $240,000 to raise a single child for 18 years, according to a new report released by the US Department of Agriculture. The costs of day care, food, transportation, clothing, and education are climbing, having risen 3 percent since 2011, and the new numbers don’t even reflect the cost of college. CNN Money reports on the finding, which is worrying to families who are continuing to struggle in economically tenuous times:
At the same time, wages aren’t keeping up. The country’s median annual household income has fallen by more than $4,000 since 2000, after adjusting for inflation, and many of the jobs lost during the recent recession have been replaced with lower-wage positions.
The USDA’s latest estimates include expenses for housing, food, transportation, clothing, health care, education and child care, as well as miscellaneous expenses, such as toys and computers.
The biggest price tag is for families in the urban Northeast earning $105,360 or more. They will spend $446,100, much more than the national average, according to the report. Meanwhile, families earning less than $61,590 a year in rural areas will spend the least, at $143,160.
While expenses in all categories rose in 2012, health care, education and child care spending increased the most.
Health care spending made up around $20,000, or around 8%, of the USDA’s estimated child-rearing expenses for a child born in 2012. Meanwhile, child care and education expenses represented nearly 18% of the total costs for middle-income parents.
Since 2000, the cost of child care has increased twice as fast as the median income of families with children, according to the most recent report from Child Care Aware of America. In 2011, the average cost of full-time center-based care for an infant ranged from about $4,600 a year in Mississippi to more than $15,000 in Massachusetts.
“Many families are priced out of licensed child care services,” said Lynette Fraga, executive director of the nonprofit group. “If they are priced out, then the health and safety of those children are at risk.”
Image: Money, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, April 4th, 2013
As health care costs–and diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders (ASD)–rise, families find themselves faced with mounting costs and not much help as they would like. More from ABC News about how advocates are lobbying states to mandate that insurance companies cover autism therapies and other costs:
Thirty-two states have required state-regulated health insurance plans to cover autism, according to Autism Speaks, an organization that advocates for families.
Autism spectrum disorders are developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Treatments include behavioral, occupational and speech therapy, and experts say early intervention is critical.
Bills to mandate coverage for care are moving along with success in Hawaii, Minnesota and Nebraska, but Autism Speaks is pushing for a law in all 50 states and calling on Congress to mandate all companies not under state jurisdiction to authorize care.
Many companies who self-insure, like Microsoft and Oracle, have already voluntarily done so, according to Autism Speaks spokesman Rick Remington.
“We are calling on the president for a national plan for autism,” he said. “Prevalence is on the rise, and we are calling out the government to say enough is enough.”
Matt Bengtzen, who works as a manager in local government in Salt Lake City, has two sons with autism, aged 13 and 10.
“The diagnosis was a struggle for us because it was not covered by insurance,” he said. “And I have very good insurance.”
“We actually have been pretty fortunate, because our children are on the more functional side of the autism spectrum,” said Bengtzen, 37. “It’s been difficult, but not devastating.”
Still, the family has spent at least $10,000 out of pocket on each child so far.
Image: Health care costs, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, April 4th, 2013
The costs of child care have nearly doubled in the last 25 years, according to a new report based on census data. More from a release by the U.S. Census Bureau:
“Perhaps the most critical decision parents make in balancing their work and home life is choosing the type of care to provide for their children while they work,” said report author Lynda Laughlin, a family demographer in the Census Bureau’s Fertility and Family Statistics Branch. “Child care arrangements and the financial burden they impose on families are important issues for policymakers and anyone concerned about the welfare of children. This report is unique in that it is not only the sole study from the Census Bureau on this topic, but also provides a consistent time-series on trends going back to the mid-1980s.”
Families with an employed mother and children younger than 15 (see chart) paid an average of $143 per week for child care in 2011, up from $84 in 1985 (in constant 2011 dollars).
The median wage for a full-time child care worker did not increase over the last 20 years. The median wage for a child care worker in 2011 was $19,098, not different from $19,680 in 1990 (in constant 2011 dollars).
The percent of families who reported they made a cash payment for child care for at least one of their children declined from 42 percent to 32 percent between 1997 and 2011.
Since 1997, the use of organized day care centers and father-provided care for preschoolers has increased, while the proportion of children cared for by nonrelatives in the provider’s home has declined. (There was a change in the data collection methodology in the mid-1990s; 1997 was the first year of data that was affected by this change.)
Image: Girl in day care, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
Parents shopping for clothes and supplies for their kids to take into the new school year may be approaching the task with less enthusiasm–and less willingness to spend–than in past years. Reuters reports that though national trends actually indicate increased spending on back-to-school, the timing and expense of it is changing for many families:
With parts of the country such as Atlanta already sending children back to class, the back-to-school season is in full swing and retailers remain hopeful that shoppers will turn out heading into the final stretch.
Kohl’s Corp. Chief Executive Kevin Mansell said the back-to-school season “has been more and more bridging August and September” based on his chain’s research and other data.
“We used to see people starting in late July, and I don’t see that as much anymore,” said Maureen Bausch, executive vice president of business development at the Mall of America, in Bloomington, Minnesota.
She expects people to finish their back-to-school shopping in September once kids see what is cool in the classroom.
Total back-to-college spending is expected to reach $53.5 billion this year, while total spending by families with children in kindergarten through 12th grade is expected to be $30.3 billion, the National Retail Federation said.
While the trade group expects the average American family to spend $688.62 on back-to-school shopping this year, a 14.1 percent increase from 2011, conversations with about a dozen shoppers across the country indicate a different story.
Image: Short pencil, via Shutterstock.
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Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
The financial crisis that has engulfed the nation over the past few years has had an additional negative consequence, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics: a rise in physical child abuse.
The study, which focused specifically on mortgage foreclosures, was conducted by researchers at the PolicyLab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It found that every 1 percent increase in 90-day mortgage delinquencies over a one-year period was associated with a 3 percent increase in children’s hospital admissions for physical child abuse, and a 5 percent increase in children’s hospital admissions for traumatic brain injuries suspected to be caused by child abuse.
“What this research shows is that there’s a connection between child abuse and families in financial crisis,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the child advocacy group First Focus, in a statement. “Unfortunately, Congress may make the problem worse with cuts to child nutrition, children’s health, childcare, and family tax credits. If Congressional leaders don’t protect these investments today, the danger to kids will increase when parents are pushed into crisis. Lawmakers need to understand that decisions about nutrition, health, and poverty, are also decisions about child abuse and neglect.”
Image: Family finances design, via Shutterstock
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