Childcare Still Unaffordable For WI Families
WI Identified in Top Ten Least Affordable for Families with 4-year-olds in Childcare Centers
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For the eighth year in a row childcare is found to be unaffordable for working families including those in Wisconsin according to Child Care Aware of America’s Parents and the High Cost of Childcare Report. Wisconsin was ranked in the top ten for least affordable states for a 4-year-old in a group based center based on a percentage of state median income for a two-parent family.
“While we know early education is critical for setting a strong course for healthy child development, the high cost of child care affects a parent’s ability to choose the child care arrangement and the quality of care they want for their children,” says Paula Breese, Executive Director of Family & Childcare Resources of N.E.W. “Some families can’t afford the cost of quality childcare so many working families must choose care based on cost rather than what is best for their children.”
The average cost of care for a 4-year-old in a group based center is $9,302 in Wisconsin. This is 11.3% of the median income of a married couple and 38.8% of the median income of a single mother in our state. For a Wisconsin family with two children in center based childcare, the cost of childcare exceeds all other average household expenses like housing, food, transportation and college tuition.
There are many overhead costs to childcare businesses including wages, rent, food, insurance, continuing education, toys and safety materials. “With average childcare wages in Northeast Wisconsin already under $10 an hour there is no room to cut costs there leaving no wiggle room for centers to make it more affordable for families,” says Breese.
Quality childcare options are important for employers and businesses too. Parents whose children are in safe, quality environments leads to higher productivity and children in unstable care environments leads to higher employee absences. According to Child Care Aware of America, “29% of employed parents experienced some kind of childcare breakdown in the past three months which were associated with absenteeism, tardiness and reduced concentration at work.”
“Because of our work with childcare providers and parents we know that some of the difficulties in finding and providing quality childcare don’t have easy answers,” says Breese. “As a community we can raise awareness to the obstacles faced by parents and early childhood professionals so we can work toward policies to make sure all children have access to high quality early childhood settings.”