How Much do Daycares Cost?

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No one will tell you that daycare is cheap. If possible, parents planning to send their children to daycare should start budgeting for this expense as soon as they can.

While none of us like paying this high price, we should always remember that quality childcare is worth every penny.

Quick Answer:

Daycare in the United States is about $9,000 per year. This average cost varies from state-to-state. It also fluctuates depending on whether children are in daycare full- or part-time, if the daycare offers extra activities and if parents need after hours or weekend child care.

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The Cost of Daycare: A Full Breakdown

Daycare solutions have been a constant source of struggle in the United States. There are places where daycare is simply unaffordable when compared with the wages of that state.

However, the daycare facilities themselves have many expenses that must be covered, which is why the cost is higher than some parents may expect.

Related: How to Find a Good Daycare

Cost of Daycare Per Year

The average cost of daycare in the United States is about $9,000 a year. This figure represents a full-time daycare that operates during a typical working day, Monday through Friday.

Naturally, that number fluctuates depending on the state where the family lives.

The cost of daycare also fluctuates depending on the programs offered and the age of the child. Infants require more attention and a lower caregiver-to-child ratio.

Therefore, the cost of newborn daycare can be as much as $5,000 more per year than the cost of daycare for toddlers.

Daycare prices can also increase for additional services. Pre-school and other specialized learning activities, transportation and after-hours care are all areas that may be additional to the initial amount that has been disclosed.

For instance, you may find another $50 to $100 per week added to your overall bill if you make a habit of picking your child up late.

It is important to discuss any possible additional fees that may accrue with your daycare provider before you sign any agreements or contracts.

Those small amounts can add up over time. Therefore, they must be kept in mind when making the decision to go for drinks after work or run errands before you pick up your child.

Cost of Daycare Per Month

Most daycare providers, especially those that are high quality, require that you sign an agreement stating you will keep your child enrolled for a specified period of time. This is often one year, but could be as limited as three to six months.

In-home daycares usually have a more flexible arrangement. They will probably insist on a legal agreement, but they also may allow you to enroll your child on a month-to-month basis.

Nearly all daycares let you pay monthly regardless of the length of your contact.

The monthly cost of daycare is an average of about $750. As with annual rates, this number can be significantly higher or lower depending on your location.

For instance, the monthly cost in California is about $950 for a toddler while the monthly cost in Arkansas is about half that.

Cost of Daycare Per Day

It is very rare to find a daycare that offers daily services. In some areas, drop-in centers allow families who are pre-registered to drop children off for care for a few days or a few hours.

These centers generally charge about $10 per hour. Many require a registration fee and/or a small monthly fee to maintain active enrollment.

A Word About Cost of Living
Though the cost of daycare varies from state-to-state, that figure is usually directly correlated with the cost of living.

Therefore, those families who live in Kentucky might rejoice that they are paying several hundred dollars less per month than those living in New York, but they should remember that they are earning less as well.

Other Forms of Child Care: A Cost Comparison

Daycare is not the only form of child care. However, you may be surprised to learn it is among the least expensive.

The other typical forms of childcare are nannies, au pairs and family members.

The High Price of a Nanny

A nanny should not be confused with a babysitter. Though they both offer one-on-one care of your child, a nanny is typically a full-service employee who provides meal prep, transportation, tutoring and sometimes cleaning in your home.

A babysitter is generally a part-time worker who provides childcare on an irregular basis. The average cost of a live-out nanny is about $750 per month.

A live-in nanny is paid less, at a rate of about $650, but that doesn’t include the living expenses that you incur by having an employee under your roof.

In addition to these expenses, you also have to pay taxes as you would with any other employee. This is a factor that catches many parents off-guard.

Related: Daycare Center vs Nanny

Hiring an Au Pair

An au pair is a person who is not native to the country in which they provide child care. A family interested in hiring an au pair must go through an official au pair service.

The family must provide a place for the au pair to live as they are expected to be treated as an extension of the host family.

In exchange for room and board, access to language courses, meals and a wage, the au pair provides child care services.

The host family pays the au pair and all associated fees. The average cost to the family is about $18,500 per year.

Saving Money on Childcare by Relying on Family

Not surprisingly, the least expensive option for a family is relying on family members for care. Family members often ask for lower pay and sometimes ask for nothing at all.

There are downsides to relying on grandparents or other people outside of the immediate family, but cost is not usually one of them.

As with nannies, any family member who doesn’t live with you must be treated as an employee if they receive more than $2,100 per year. You will be required to account for and report all payments and taxes.

Budgeting for Childcare

covering the cost of daycare is a matter that is difficult for many families. In many states it can be more expensive than the cost of college tuition.

Luckily, there are a few ways to work through the high price of daycare.

1. Plan Your Daycare Budget in Advance

Not everyone has this luxury. but if you are planning to start a family, part of that planning needs to be budgetary.

Each month, start setting aside the amount you will need for daycare expenses. This will give the experience of having several hundred dollar less per month while also building up your savings.

2. Take a Side Job

It is a controversial subject. Most people agree that families shouldn’t have to work multiple jobs to pay for child care.

However, it is a reality that sometimes extra money is needed. A temporary side job may be enough to cover the cost of childcare while also giving you a break from the routine of your typical 40 hours.

Creative pursuits may even double as a hobby.

3. Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid or ashamed to reach out for help. Talk to family members, especially grandparents.

Tell them the cost of the daycare and ask if they are willing to chip in. It may also be time to ask for a raise.

4. Remember the Time Frame

Your child is typically only in daycare for about five years. Cutting corners to pay for childcare is short-lived and well worthwhile.

You might have to put off buying a new car or upgrading your home, but it is for a very good reason.

Final Thoughts

The cost of daycare is no small matter. At an average of $9,000 per year, daycare is not an expense that can be avoided.

Plan now so you don’t have to worry about the costs of daycare later. How are you saving for daycare? Let us know in the comments!

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