A new report reveals the truly desperate state of child care in this country.

stressed working mom with baby
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Even though my kids are still in grade school, my hubby and I already stress about paying for college. Because the cost is cray-cray! But now, a new report from New America finds that child care costs may be even higher than college tuition! Which I guess shouldn't surprise anyone, given that we already know how much of our paychecks go right to the nanny, babysitter, or daycare. But still—so not cool!

In a study commissioned in partnership with Care.com, New America looked at more than 15,000 families across the country and deduced that full-time daycare for kiddos under the age of 4 costs an average of $9,589 a year. Say what? So, if you have three kids—gulp—well, you do the math. Meanwhile, according to the report, the average cost of in-state college tuition is $9,410. I think we can all agree that is just nuts.

In fact, the cost of child care accounts for 18 percent of the average family's income. This is nothing compared to the cost for a nanny, as many parents already know. The report claims that paying someone to watch your child in your own home will run you about $28,353 a year, which would account for over half of the U.S. median household income, as Time.com reports. Child care was also found to cost about 85 percent of monthly rent for families.

The report blames a "fragmented, patchwork system" for the frankly unmanageable state of child care in the U.S. New America estimates that in a society where many families are made up of two working parents, around 12 million kids under age 5 need care on a daily basis, and our nation is failing them.

Researchers say "an effective system should be built on three pillars: affordable cost, high quality, and easy availability." To achieve those goals, the report calls upon policymakers to provide universal paid family leave, and affordable, high-quality child care. And it seems there is no more crucial time to focus on these issues than now, with the presidential election drawing near. That's why our votes matter, parents! Make sure to register to vote and share that you did using the hashtag #OurVoteCounts.

Because the alternative is that we continue to stretch ourselves too thin, too soon, and without the help we need. And we'll still have college to pay for!

What's your reaction to this report?

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebookwhere she chronicles her life momming, and exercising and drinking coffee, but not simultaneously.