Cost of Child Care can cripple family budget; Leading companies work to ease the burden

When my two children finally were old enough to leave Day Care and start school full time I remember thinking I could use the savings to pay the mortgage on a beach house! Seems that the expense of child care has only climbed higher. A new report published by Child Care Aware of America shows daycare surpassing other household expenses.

The study says child care has become the highest or second highest expenditure in a family’s budget. Massachusetts has the highest daycare costs in the nation, averaging $14,980 annually. I had dinner recently with a Boston-area mom and executive whose daycare options for her one year old son are at the high end of the scale, approaching a whopping $2,000 per month!

The average cost of daycare in Maine is a lot less- $9,256 – but still represents 42 percent of a single mother’s income in the state. And you know the math- costs just get higher with brothers and sisters in child care.

Parents – moms in particular – are caught between their careers and supporting their families while paying for daycare. Safe, reliable child care is an age-old issue that affects more than the working mom or dad, but also the company’s performance and ultimately the broader economy.

Thankfully, some progressive employers are recognizing the high cost of day care as an impediment to getting ahead. Working Mother Magazine is crediting many of them. For instance American Electric Power makes their list of 100 Best Companies for working moms: “Mothers who have infants, toddlers and kindergartners access subsidized rates at a day-care facility near the company headquarters; those who live in other locations rely on discounts at a nationwide web of child-care centers. Employees receive up to 20 days of backup care annually, which they use to request in-home help ($4 per hour) or visit area facilities ($15 per day).”

EMD Serono in Rockland, MA also earned a coveted spot on Working Mother Magazine’s list—Management there established priority access and generous discounts at two child care facilities located near their office. Employees also receive ten days of backup care annually.

Nearly 11 million children under age five are in some type of child care setting every week in the US. On average, the children of working mothers spend 35 hours a week in such care. Businesses like these recognize the economic benefit to their bottom lines and beyond – the community – when parents have stable employment and comfort their children are in a safe and affordable place while they’re on the job.


About christengraham

President of Giving Strong, Inc. Christen advises businesses, foundations and families for how to make a greater social impact.