Survey: 32 percent of families spend 20 percent or more on child care

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For the fourth year in a row, Care.com’s Cost of Care Survey spoke in-depth with more than 1,000 parents nationwide about their child-care spending habits, including the rising costs of child care centers, nannies, and babysitters. The survey also ranks child-care affordability by state, with New Hampshire topping the list for most affordable for families looking for a nanny, and North Dakota coming in as the most affordable state for in-center care.

Also among this year’s findings:

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  • 40 percent of parents say child care costs cause tension in their relationship.
  • More than half of all parents (52 percent) say they spend too much on child care.
  • 47 percent of parents wish the United States would subsidize child care costs as some other countries do.
  • 20 percent of families say they had fewer children than they would have liked because of the high cost of child care.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 parents would put themselves in debt (or even further in the hole) to pay for child care, up from 25 percent in 2016.
  • 72 percent of parents budget for child care, yet 30 percent aren’t able to stay within their monthly budget.
  • Nearly 2 out of 3 parents (63 percent) stated that child care costs influenced their career decisions. 33 percent changed jobs, 27 percent asked for a more flexible work schedule, and 23 percent downshifted to a part-time schedule, or became a stay at home parent, to save money on child care.
  • 73 percent of working parents say their job has been affected because of child care plans falling through at the last-minute, with 64 percent having to use sick days and 54 percent being late to work as a result.
  • 85 percent of working parents wish their employer offered child care benefits, but don’t.
  • 68 percent of of families say the current tax deduction they receive from the Dependent Care FSA isn’t enough to have a meaningful impact on their child care costs.

The Cost of Care Survey is an annual survey to measure the relative cost of care in the U.S. and how care impacts families’ budgets and employment.

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The Care.com 2017 Cost of Care Survey captured responses from more than 1,100 parents in the United States. Respondents were recruited from Care.com. Weekly rates for child care costs are based on Care.com 2016 member data, with the exception of au pair rates, which are based on data from Cultural Care Au Pair, Au Pair in America, and Au Pair Care.

Affordability rankings are calculated based on the average cost of care for one child in relation to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey that includes both married and single parent households with children. The complete list of rankings and detailed methodology can be found here.

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