Picture this… a young couple, just starting out in life, have just brought home their first baby. Both the new mom and dad have full-time jobs. Everyone in the immediate family also works full-time, so they begin to shop around for daycare.
Image their surprise when they find out that infant daycare, in many places around the United States, can cost more than a mortgage payment on a $250k home.
As a matter of fact, according to The Balance, “In 33 states (and the District of Columbia), the cost of infant care is more than the cost of in-state tuition at a public, 4-year college.”
How can anyone afford infant care today, let alone young couples and single parents?
What other options do they have?
Become a Stay-at-Home parent.
For double income households, assuming that one parent can foot the monthly expenses alone, the lower earning parent can stay home.
However, CNBC reports that, “a 26-year-old woman who is earning $30,253 and takes off five years to provide care is losing $467,000 over the course of her career — a 19 percent reduction in her lifetime earnings.”
Create a Private Nanny Share
Private nanny shares, which involve several families hiring one nanny and splitting the costs, is not without risk. You would have to vet the nanny yourself and share the nanny’s time and attention amongst enough children to make this a cheaper alternative.
Not to mention, if you hire a private nanny, you are now responsible for reporting wages to the IRS.
Employer Assistance Programs
Some larger employers offer help, like flexible spending accounts or employer sponsored daycare centers, but these options are usually not available to those who need it the most.
Moving Back Home
Couples are selling their homes, or giving up their apartments, and moving in with the grandparents.
Going back home, when available, allows a couple to cut their expenses and either use the savings to afford daycare or take the opportunity to drop down to a single income.
Depending on the type of work, one parent may be able to change their schedule to a night shift. This can be very difficult on a marriage. It is also tiring for the night shift parent who must take care of a child during the day, but for some new parents, it is the only option.
Seeking State Assistance
Unfortunately, it is difficult for a double income family to qualify for assistance in many states. This leads new parents down a path of frustration and, sometimes, extreme behavior in order to qualify for help.
Loving couples sometimes get legally divorced. Sadly, it is cheaper and easier for one parent to pay child support and the other to qualify for public assistance than it is to find affordable and reliable child care.
The outrageous costs of daycare for children from newborn to 4-years-old can push parents to extremes, from lying about their situation to qualify for aid to illegal and unsafe home daycares.
Perhaps it is time to address the issue of child care in the United States?