Parents Agree: The Government Needs to Help With Child Care Post-COVID-19
There's no doubt about it: The rising costs of child care in the U.S. are a burden for many families, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic impacted finances for companies large and small. More than 40 million people filed for unemployment since March, with many Americans struggling to find jobs, work enough hours, or reopen their businesses after months of stay-at-home orders. Now add in the cost of quality child care on top of that.
A recent survey by Care.com, a platform for finding dependable family care, reported that 55 percent of families spend at least $10,000 every year for child care—which, by the way, is more than the average annual cost of a four-year, in-state college. Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed say they spend more than 10 percent of their entire household income on care for their kids.
Between 2013 and 2019, the average weekly rate for a nanny increased from $472 to $565, and the average weekly rate for daycare jumped from $186 to $215. More than half of parents surveyed by Care.com say they expect child care will be even higher following the pandemic.
“The pandemic thrust our nation’s care crisis into the spotlight,” says Tim Allen, CEO of Care.com. “Our economic recovery rests on people’s ability to get back to work, and for parents, that makes child care indispensable. But with social distancing, remote work, and the closure of businesses that many parents rely on, a new dynamic of child care is quickly emerging, and if we don’t take action now to solve this child care crisis, there will be huge ramifications for all of us.”
Depending where you live, child care can be even less affordable or accessible. Care.com found that Mississippi, New Mexico, and Washington, D.C. ranked among the least affordable places to live for hiring a nanny or sending your child to daycare. And new analysis out of the University of Minnesota and the Center for American Progress found that middle income, rural families are more likely to be in child-care deserts, meaning they have the least options for quality care though the demand for it is still there.
That's why nearly all parents surveyed (96 percent, in fact), want the government and business leaders to step in and provide financial support for child care, especially as Americans move through new reopening phases in their states post-quarantine. Here's how to help make that happen—and how to take advantage of the things already available to cut costs for your family:
What You Can Do About Child Care Costs
- Price out options in your area. (Check out Care.com's free tools for calculating full-time child care, babysitter rates, and nanny taxes.)
- Get creative by looking into more cost-effective options like nanny sharing, or by checking to see if there's any flexibility with the hours you work/need care.
- Research government programs and subsidies—like these four child tax credits—that may be available for your family and help to offset costs.
- Vote. With 71 percent of families saying candidates' child care policies will impact how they vote in November, all eyes are on President Trump and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. While Trump wants to put $1 billion toward increasing affordable child care options in 2020, Biden is expected to release a comprehensive child care plan that will focus on paid family leave, care for the elderly and disabled, and fair wages for caregivers.
The child care crisis in America is worse than ever after the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents need to be their own advocates to find solutions, mitigate costs, and go to the polls in November and vote for the child care options that will work best for their family.