Kids don’t necessarily look forward to the end of summer break, but for working parents in America, the start of a new school year can mean relief from the months of uncertainty, stress and financial cost that comes with having few viable childcare options when school’s out. A lack of childcare infrastructure in the United States leaves many working families scrambling to find someone to watch their children, desperately trying to keep their kids safe while they’re at work.
But it’s not just a summer problem. For working families, especially single-parent households, finding quality, affordable and accessible day care can be a year-round struggle — one that more hot-button issues like healthcare and jobs often take priority over when elections come around. Some 2020 Democratic candidates want to change that: Elizabeth Warren has made government-funded universal childcare a tenet of her campaign strategy, a concept several other candidates also support.
These 11 statistics show why childcare is such a source of anxiety for American families:
$9,600 - Average annual cost of childcare nationwide, per child, in 2017
55% - People who said childcare costs were a significant financial challenge in 2018
33% - Parents who went into debt to pay for summer childcare in 2018
51% - People living in “childcare deserts” (areas with three times more children than licensed childcare slots) in 2017
19 - States whose childcare assistance programs had waitlists or frozen intake in 2018
67% - Children who have all available parents working outside the industry home as of 2017
16% - Private-industry employees who had access to paid family leave in 2018
37% - Average portion of annual income that single parents spend on childcare
7% - Recommended portion of annual income to be spent on childcare, according to the Department of Health and Human Services
18.3% - Mothers with children ages 3 and younger working outside the home for a median wage of $10.50 or less in 2016
$23,240 - Median annual income for childcare workers in 2018