Monday, August 20, 2012

Childcare: Mo' Babies, Mo' Problems

There was an interesting article last week on about childcare and the ongoing rising costs.  This excerpt struck me as pretty horrifying:
In almost half of all states, the cost of center-based care for one child exceeded annual median rent payments, the report said. And when two children are factored in, the costs exceeded rent payments in all 50 states. Child Care Aware also found that in 35 states, the cost to provide center-based care for an infant was higher than in-state tuition and fees for one year at a four-year public college.  Full article at
Sebastian just found out he's the father of quadruplets.
That's insane to me.  The average in Pennsylvania is at 12.8%  Just imagine the extreme of that! And this is only taking into consideration two-income households.  If you are a single parent, these numbers jump sometimes as much as 35% of your total household income.  So you've got to weigh the pros and cons of paying your rent vs. paying for childcare.  And when you've got more than one too young to attend Elementary school yet, that number doubles.

That's right.  Doubles.
Some parents are responding to this by sending their kids to non-accredited, non-licensed day care centers.  The cost of getting licensed is prohibitive in and of itself:
Basloe said that New York leads the pack not only because the cost of living is higher, but also because there are many regulations that child care facilities have to comply with that add to the price.
"We have very high regulations and standards, from the ratio of teachers to students, to training and education standards, and that leads to a greater cost," she said.
A former coworker of mine was amazed when his wife and he sat down to do their family budget only to discover that after paying for childcare for their 3 year old and their 6 month old, his wife was clearing $5,000 annually.

This is me doing a household budget.

So when do you draw the line (assuming you can afford to do so)?  It's been pretty well documented that we're all working more and making less (yes, I cited Mother Jones and, no, I'm not sorry for it.  I went to a liberal-hippie-crunchy-granola-breath-college.  What do you expect?) but is it worth it?

I grew up in the care of my father Monday through Friday until I was four years old.  My dad worked night shift at local mental care facility as a security guard.  This trained him well to deal with me from the age of 13-17.  I did benefit from the fact that my grandmother watched me while my dad worked.  She lived up the street from our apartment and I got to hang out with one of my favorite people on this planet on a regular basis.

When my dad remarried, just before my fifth birthday, my stepmother and he worked opposite shifts, so there was always somebody home with me.  I never appreciated how rare that was until I started looking at the young families I know just starting out now.  It's next to impossible unless you and your partner work opposite shifts or you have very willing and giving and awesome family who you can entrust the care of your child to on a daily basis.

Actual picture of Mom-mom not available.  But this is realllly close.
Thankfully, my wife's job allows for a lot of flexibility in her schedule.  She's a dance teacher and fitness instructor, so the majority of classes she teaches fall outside of a 9-5 workday.  I'm grateful our kid is going to be able to grow up knowing both of us and having plenty of time at home.  And saving 12.8% of our annual income doesn't suck either.

(And for the record, if you love your job and don't want to stay at home with your kid, it's totally your call.  I'm not saying you have to drop everything professional because you decide to have a baby.  But I know very few people who love their jobs and fewer still who would say they love their jobs as much as their children.)
It'd be funny if it weren't true.
So yeah.  The TL;DR version of this post (too late): The whole damn system is out of order.  


  1. when Z was an infant I cleared less than 3000 dollars a year after paying for his childcare. Early socialization was good for him, so I don't regret it at all.

  2. That's an insane amount of money to me. I don't doubt he benefited from being in that environment -- Z's a kick-arse kid -- it just baffles me that SO MUCH of the money earned by a new parent is getting sucked into daycare.