The Most—and Least—Affordable States for Child Care in 2020

Depending on where you live, hiring a nanny or sending your kid to a child care center can really cost you. Here's how it breaks down in the U.S., in the most expensive states to the least.

Finding trustworthy and convenient child care has become even more important in 2020 as families face a global pandemic, but the cost of quality care in America is becoming less and less affordable.

According to a recent survey by, a platform for finding dependable family care, a majority of families (72 percent, in fact) reported that they spend 10 percent or more of their household income on child care. The same survey showed that 55 percent of families are spending at least $10,000 per year on child care. To put that into perspective, the College Board reports that the average annual cost of a four-year, in-state college is $9,410.

This goes as no surprise to parents who have already done their research on child care options or who have already had to make sacrifices to make sure their kids are being well taken care of. A 2018 survey from the Center for American Progress shows just how much these increasing costs are adding to the child care crisis in America: 41 percent of families reported negative career impacts—like having to work fewer hours or passing up a job—due to issues with finding quality child care within their budget. For many families, it's the moms who are primarily being affected by these child care issues.

teacher with preschool kids learning alphabet in classroom
RUSS ROHDE/Getty Images data also shows that child care charges are up big time, having increased by 20 percent for a nanny and 16 percent for a child care center between 2013 and 2019. The average weekly rate for a nanny in 2013 was $472, compared to $565 today, and the average weekly rate for daycare was $186, compared to $215 today.

There's no doubt that the financial burden of child care is an issue but, depending where you live, parents might have more cost-effective options. Here's what found.

Most Affordable States for Child Care

Top five states to hire a nanny:

  1. New Jersey
  2. Maryland
  3. Alaska
  4. Connecticut
  5. North Dakota

Top five states to use a child care center:

  1. North Dakota
  2. Utah
  3. Delaware
  4. New Jersey
  5. South Dakota

Least Affordable States for Child Care

Least affordable states to hire a nanny:

  1. Mississippi
  2. New Mexico
  3. Arkansas
  4. Arizona
  5. Florida

Least affordable states to use a child care center:

  1. Washington DC
  2. California
  3. Oregon
  4. New Mexico
  5. New York

Feeling frustrated? There are resources that can help make finding child care easier and ways to get creative—like nanny sharing, for example—that can make child care work for your schedule and budget. Or, if you've been looking to move, New Jersey and North Dakota are looking pretty good right about now.

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