California ranks the least affordable for center-based infant care in study released by Child Care Aware of America


WASHINGTON – Child Care Aware of America recently released its 13th annual “The U.S. and The High Price of Child Care: An Examination of a Broken System” which found that child care is unaffordable in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. For 30 years, Child Care Aware of America has been the leading voice for quality, affordable child care in the United States. Of note, Child Care Aware of America’s findings showed that across all states, the price  of center-based infant care exceeds 27% of median household income for single working parents – these impacts were exacerbated for parents and families of color.

Child Care Aware of America also found that child care remains one of the highest household expenses, especially in the Northeast and West, often exceeding $20,000 per year in those regions, competing closely with rising housing prices. The federal poverty level for a family of three in the continental United States was $20,780 last year.

In California, the annual price of center-based infant care is $16,452. Median income for a single parent is $29,198 in California; meaning that infant child care in a center will cost 56.3% of median income. In two-parent families, where median income is $93,850, child care prices for an infant in center-based care are 17.6% of median income. Average annual child care prices for a toddler – California ranked 20th least affordable – and for a 4-year old – California ranked sixth least affordable – is $11,202. To put that into perspective, the average public college in California is $9,870 annually for tuition and fees.

Child Care Aware of America created an interactive map showing prices across the country as well as the relationship between prices and median income by state. It can be found at

Nationally, the price of center-based infant care ranges from 7.6% to 17.6% of median household income for married couples.

The use of updated millennial income data to compare with child care prices in each state shows that, overall, millennials pay anywhere from 18 to 42% of annual income for center-based infant care.

The report showed descriptions of each member of the child care ecosystem – children, families, providers, communities, government and businesses and the role they play in creating and implementing solutions to price and access issues.

The Child Care Resource and Referral agencies exist in many states to support families and communities, leading the way for multiple stakeholders.

The report found legislative and policy recommendations which focus on the key questions of how to support the child care workforce in sustaining quality care and how to help families pay for it. Recommendations included improved data collection and analysis; enhanced parent and provider awareness and strengthened financial mechanisms.

Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., executive director of Child Care Aware of America said, “A critical piece of the ‘price of care’ report this year is the spotlight stories on children with special needs, businesses who help, working fathers, single, student and millennial mothers, family child care providers, exemplary child care programs and solutions to better fund the system to support all of these stakeholders. When one member of this ecosystem struggles, the entire system flounders.

“Quality, affordable child care should be, and can be made available and accessible to all children in the U.S. – regardless of age, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or geographic location,” Fraga said.

Child Care Aware of America works with state Child Care Resource and Referral agencies to track the price of care for children by age and setting, then compares each state’s prices  to its median income, ranking the states by affordability for each category of care.

For more than three decades, Child Care Aware of America has advocated for families, partnered with Child Care Resource and Referrals and informed the nation about the price of child care for families. Research has shown that children who attend high-quality early childhood education programs have better outcomes later in life, including increased education and earnings and less contact with the criminal justice system, saving the government money in the long run.

More than 12.5 million children under the age of five are in some form of child care in the United States; roughly 35% of children in care under age five are in child care centers. As the nation’s leading voice for child care, Child Care Aware of America is comprised of 125,000 online advocates from across the country and hundreds of members. For child care providers, they offer training on emergency preparedness as well as technical assistance that emphasize health, nutrition and obesity prevention and more.

To learn more, visit Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Submitted by Child Care Aware of America.