Capping the Co-pay: A State-by-State Analysis, Child Care Proposal Will Keep More Money in Families’ Pockets

*Updated: November 2021

It is no secret that the cost of child care is unbearable for most families. In many states, the monthly cost of child care often exceeds the average mortgage payment and the annual cost is higher than in-state college tuition. Historically, this cost has fallen to parents and providers as the child care system has been significantly underfunded. The lack of funding exacerbates the structural racism embedded in the system and disproportionately affects families of color, women, and single parents.

The Build Back Better (BBB) Act, which recently passed in the house, includes historic investments in child care and pre-kindergarten totalling $390 billion. The White House estimates 20 million children would be eligible for the program. With this investment, it is essential to make care affordable and control the out-of-pocket costs for families. The Child Care for Working Families Act (CCWFA), which was reintroduced in congress this year, provides a sliding scale structure for co-payments. Under this plan, families’ co-payments, or their share of the cost, is based on their income and co-payments vary based on state median income (SMI). Co-payments vary based on income, ranging from no out-of-pocket costs for families earning under 75 percent of the SMI to co-payments capped at 7 percent of income for families earning under 250 percent of the SMI. By incorporating a sliding scale in a future investment in child care, parents in the lower income brackets—who are disproportionately people of color—would be alleviated of the burden of the high cost of care, and have more money to meet other needs. 

The full report can be accessed in the PDF on the right. The visualization tool below showcases the estimated co-payment ranges a family of four would be expected to pay, on a sliding scale up to the 7% co-payment cap, based on the selected state median income (SMI) percentage. After selecting the desired SMI percentage and clicking the arrow to confirm your selection, hover over the desired state to see the pop-up information for the income threshold and estimated co-payment range. To view a different state, hover over the state you wish to see. The are zoom buttons are on the right corner of the map. Click on the bottom right expand button to view the visualization on full screen.

>> View the full analysis and data.