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Child Care Across The Country

Amanda C. Haury

Ask working-class parents with young children how their budgets is faring, and you'll likely hear a series of financial complaints. Raising children in today's modern age is becoming increasingly expensive, partially due to the rising costs of child care. In the United States, for example, some areas fare better than others in terms of cost and selection of child care. Here is a look at the rising costs of child care in the United States, how rates compare in different states and how parents are keeping their budgets in check as child care costs continue to rise.

Child Care Costs Comparable to College Tuition?
Many new parents spend hours worrying about how they are going to save up for their children's college education, while a comparable expense is looming just around the corner. In some states, child care expenses have increased to college tuition levels. According to a study performed by the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, in some states, families pay as much as 16% of their annual salaries on child care costs alone. The sky-high cost of child care is catching many new parents off guard. In an August 2012 article published by the Christian Science Monitor, unpaid maternity leave coupled with overpriced child care expenses often trigger a "poverty spell," causing families to buckle down just to cover basic living expenses.

Cost Depends on Your Location
How much you pay for child care in the United States depends greatly on which of the 50 states you live in. Parents in Massachusetts can expect to pay on average 16% of their annual salary, or approximately $15,000, which is more than some people pay in rent every year. Other high-cost states include New York, with average child care costs sitting at 15.7% of annual salary, Colorado and Hawaii both at 15%, Minnesota at 14.9%, Oregon at 14.7%, and Pennsylvania at 14%.

Meanwhile, parents in states such as Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana can expect to pay significantly lower child care costs compared to their neighboring states. Parents in Mississippi may pay as little as $4,600 for child care or just 7.3% of the average annual salary. Alabama and Louisiana have low child care average costs at 7.8% and 8% respectively. These costs are significantly lower than in many other states and are definitely not the norm. Unfortunately for parents, child care costs seem to average somewhere around 12% of the average citizen's annual salary.

Cutting Child Care Costs
With child care costs on the rise across the country, parents are trying to get creative with saving money and cutting costs where they need to in order to make their budget work. As reported by CBS News in February 2012, some parents find child care costs to be so disastrous to their budgets they actually quit jobs to avoid the cost of child care all together. While this may be an option for some families, it is not feasible for all.

Other avenues that could save your family money on child care include shopping around for the best possible value, inquiring about a multiple child discount, or relying on the aid of an experienced family member or babysitter. Oftentimes, cheaper child care rates can be found by seeking out an independent child care provider, as some of them offer lower rates than traditional nursery schools and day care centers.

The Bottom Line
As costs continue to rise, parents are forced to take measures to ensure that they can keep their budgets on track while dealing with skyrocketing child care costs. Sometimes even debate whether one parent should trade his or her employment for taking care of the children at home. With the average cost of child care reaching new heights, new parents need to prepare themselves and ensure that their budgets can handle such a heavy hit. By preparing themselves for future costs, and saving ahead of time, parents can help alleviate the financial burden that child care has become.

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