Financial Aid for Child Care?

“Poor Piggy” by Katie Greaney

“Child Care Costs More Than College” was recent title in my feeds.  With the youngest in full-time childcare and the oldest in college it naturally caught my eye.  Especially this time of year when I am getting hit with fees left and right, $100 here, $600 there, and oh by the way I need $5000 by next week.  I had never thought about the two costs in comparison to each other.  The comparison is related to an interesting study released that includes some sobering facts on the rise in child care costs.

“The recommendation of the Department of Health and Human Services is that parents spend no more than 10 percent of their family income on child care. But in 36 states, the cost of center-based care for an infant exceeds 10 percent of median income for a married couple, and for single parents, the cost of center-based infant care exceeds 10 percent of median income in every state.”  read more

Not a surprise that birth rates are down these days!  One of the recommendations from the National Association of Child Care Resources & Referral Agencies  is…
“Meet the child care needs of working families by ensuring that publicly funded prekindergarten and Head Start programs make full-day, year-round child care services available.”

It seems Blago did provide some value in his tenure as governor of Illinois when he made good on his promise to make early childhood education a priority.  Especially since Illinois is in the top 10 states for least-affordable full-time care!  Too bad there just isn’t the money to pay for it anymore (was there ever really?).  Money is an issue across the US, and they will likely get worse resulting in even more cuts as budgets get tighter.

Obviously, the hardest hit are the lower income families, especially single parents and those that can’t afford to have a stay at home parent or pay for these pre-k programs.  I realize the issue is complex and I don’t pretend to know everything about this topic, but it seems it would be just as worthwhile if these programs continued on and became income based.  After all, families that can afford the programs are going to go out and pay for them anyway.  And the families that require them are already paying for an alternative.  Seems to be a win-win, keeps the program available and help relieve some of the budget issues. 

Child care costs have always been the biggest chunk of our budget, well at least until college costs came along.  Though we have actually been more fortunate than most.  We have always been able to find quality and somewhat affordable care.  I can’t say my friends that live in the City have been as lucky, on average they pay higher rates.  On the other end of the spectrum, the university my oldest son attends has tuition guarantee for out-of-state students.  The tuition rate we signed on for freshman year as remained, even in his fifth year.  A great comfort seeing as tuition has increased on average 9% for residents each year for the last four years.

Let’s hope it doesn’t get to the point where people have to finance their child care!  Lucky for us there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  College costs for the oldest will end this year (except the loans payments for some time to come).  We are behind the eight ball when it comes to the youngest, he’s been around almost four years and we haven’t started a college fund.  Hopefully when he starts kindergarten when the potential college savings money is no longer financing his day care costs.