Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Costs of Child Care in America

 Having children is an event that many in Americans choose to embark upon and has been built into the "typical" model of the American dream. While there are many factors that contribute to the decision to have a child, early child care costs from infancy to the start of grade school may be a large deterrent. According to Census Bureau, the cost of child care has almost doubled in the last 25 years. This burden falls heavily on working mothers as they are more likely to leave their jobs to take care of children if they make less than their partner. And once children reach grade school, these women find it difficult to get back into, and become a competitive force in the workplace again.

Regardless of income, many feel the strain of childcare. However some of the hardest hit are those right above the income bracket to receive government assistance and those living in poverty. While the average percent of household income spent on childcare is about 7%, It can be much higher for low income families (about 30%!). This can impact the families ability to pay for other things such as housing, utilities and food; Which can effect the health and wellness of every family member.

Moving forward, physicians can have a significant role of encouraging parents to prepare for child care. During early prenatal visits, simple questions such as "have you began making preparations for early child care after maternity/paternity leave?"can get soon to be parents thinking if they haven't already. While it may not be possible to discuss their options, knowing what is available within the community and having resources to give can really make a difference. Simply mentioning websites like Care.com could start parents on the right track.  Also encouraging new parents to talk to others who have recently or currently exploring child care options can remind them to build their social networks as they enter into this next phase of life.



Rising childcare costs; US Census 

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