Nearly Half of U.S. Families Don't Budget for Child Care, Care.com ReportsChild Care is the Largest Expense for Many Parents with Young Children, ahead of Housing and Food
June 17, 2014
75% of U.S. families are overwhelmed by the cost of child care and yet nearly half don't budget for it, according to a recent study by Care.com, the world's largest online care destination for finding and managing family care.
Conducted in May 2014, the study surveyed more than 700 parents and found that families are misinformed about the cost of child care, what's included and what savings options are available to them. According to the survey, 52 percent aren't aware they're eligible for child care tax breaks. With average weekly rates for a nanny ranging from $472-$504 depending upon the number of children cared for, without ample preparation, costs can quickly mount.
Weekly costs for a family with an infant and a preschooler vary widely across the nation. For example, a family in Dallas will spend $276/week on day care and $438/week on a nanny, compared to families in Boston who pay $664/week and $531/week for the same care needs, respectively. Louisiana and Maryland top the list for the most wallet-friendly states for care, while Oregon and New Mexico are among the most costly.
"Care is the largest single expense for many families with young children, a realization that catches many by surprise," said Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Care.com. "Whether you're a dual-income household or a single parent, budgeting for and meeting that expense is an on-going challenge. We hope to help families not only find care but also manage the cost associated with it."
"There are several planning steps we encourage families to take when expecting a baby," said Donna Levin, Co-Founder and VP of Operations, Care.com. "They should research the maternity and paternity leave policies of their employers and decide together who will take leave and for how long. Many families are also surprised to learn about the different kinds of care available, such as nannies, baby sitters and day care centers, and it's important to understand the differences as you select the solution that best fits your family. And finally, budget. Care.com's pay and nanny tax calculators are a good place to start in determining budget, how much you can afford to spend on child care, and what options make the most sense for your family."
And the earlier families plan, the more money they can save. Many employers offer flexible spending accounts (FSAs) where families can set aside up to $5,000 pre-tax for child care expenses. Additionally, some businesses offer child care reimbursements for working parents, on-site day care or membership to services like Care.com. However, the study found that only 31% of employees currently take advantage of benefits like FSAs, although 83% of employees who have access to child care benefits say they help reduce stress and improve work-life balance.