33% of Parents Went Into Debt to Pay for Summer Childcare in 2018

This year’s back-to-school deals: pens, pencils, and... childcare?

In These Times Staff October 2, 2019

(Maskot / Getty)

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

Limited Time:

SUBSCRIBE TO IN THESE TIMES MAGAZINE FOR JUST $1 A MONTH