Why is Child Care So Expensive? What We Can Do About It. - Early Learning Nation

Why is Child Care So Expensive? What We Can Do About It.

Support for this project was provided by Better Life Lab at New America

Cover: Why is Child Care So Expensive and What Can We Do About It? A couple wonders why child care is in high demand and so expensive while discussing on the couch. A family should only spend 7 percent of income on child care to be considered affordable, but the number is closer to 20 percent. In 2024 America, most children live in families where both people work, but parents need child care to work. A man asks: can they just add an extra kid to the class? Woman says it’s not that easy because of the staffing ratios required. What else makes child care so expensive? Many things- taxes, payroll, rent, insurance, supplies, furniture, food, licensing fees, marketing, water, toys, electricity, trash. K-12 education is different. It is subsidized by the federal government. The investment does not exist in child care. So what can be done? The federal government can invest in child care. With federal investment in child care, more people can go to work. We’d have lower rates of absenteeism, more providers can be paid a living wage. Has this been done before? Yes, and with ARPA and it worked.

The free market is never going to fix child care. We just need to find the political will to create that federal investment.

Rebecca Gale is a writer with the Better Life Lab at New America where she covers child care. Follow her on Instagram at @rebeccagalewriting, and subscribe to her Substack newsletter, "It Doesn't Have to Be This Hard."

Dianne Kirsch is graphic designer, specializing in brand identity, art direction, print collateral, books, annual reports and website design.

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