CNN Money recently ran a piece on the cost of child care, and the effect those costs are having on families. According to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, the cost of putting two children into full time daycare or afterschool child care now surpasses the median annual rent cost in all 50 states. If this does not shock you, it should. Paying for the care of one child is expensive enough, but if you have a second child and no one at home to care for the children, you can expect to budget the equivalent of an extra housing payment.
Some people believe the easy answer is to keep one parent, presumably the mother, at home with the children while the other parent, presumably the father, works. The assumption is that this would save on child care costs, as well as other costs associated with being in the workforce such as travel, gas and work clothing. While this might be a good solution for the traditional two-parent family where the father is a high wage earner, it does not solve the problem for single-parent families or families where the father earns minimum wage or little more.
The rising costs of child care are dangerous. Not only do the costs drain over 20 percent of a household budget, they can also cause struggling parents to settle for substandard care. Many parents have a hard time finding a good child care center, where they are comfortable with the staff, the program, the distance from home or work, and the cost. Centers are often more expensive than in-home child care, and if even in-home care is too cost prohibitive, parents may feel like they have no other choice than to leave their children with unlicensed people who work for less but are accountable to no one.