Lowest Income Families Paying More for Child Care

Dec 05, 2011

By Christine Johnson-Staub

Child care expenses have increased dramatically for families living under the poverty level, while remaining relatively level for other families, according to the recently released U.S. Census Bureau's Who's Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2010, which reflects 2008 SIPP data.

Working poor mothers with children under age 15 pay about 40 percent of their monthly income on child care expenses, a dramatic increase from the 25.7 percent they paid for child care in 2002. Families earning more than 200 percent of poverty paid just under 7 percent of their monthly income toward child care expenses in 2010, compared to 6.5 percent in 2002.

For families with children ages birth to 5, child care arrangements vary in relation to the education level of the mother. Among children with mothers who have college degrees, 76 percent are cared for by non-relatives as a regular arrangement, in an organized facility (such as a family child care home), child care center or nursery school. For children whose mothers are high school graduates, only 52 percent are regularly cared for in those settings.

As states implement policies and programs to improve the quality of their child care and early education systems with the goal of improving outcomes for low-income children, this data points to the need to increase financial subsidies and other policies that help low-income families use structured child care settings.

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