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Child care is expensive. The average cost of child care in the United States can range from 9- 36% of a family’s income, depending on where they live. We are the only industrialized country that does not offer some kind paid family leave. For one of the richest countries in the world, child poverty rates have remained increasingly high in America. The lack of affordable child care has become a national crisis, with daycare costing more than in-state university tuition in half of the country.

Lowering costs and providing better access to high quality childcare can significantly increase parents’ employment rates and incomes. In turn, the increase in income has the potential to improve children’s outcomes as well in terms of more educational opportunities later in life. A typical family paying for child care spends about 10% of their income but the challenge is especially acute for low-income families and single parents. In some states, a minimum wage worker simply would need to work more weeks than exist in a year to afford an average-priced day care. Quality child care is expensive and in many states it can cost more than college tuition. In California, the cost of a typical day-care center is now equal to almost half of the median income of a single parent.


Paper submitted for the Poverty Law class, Spring 2020, with Prof. Michele Benedeto Neitz.

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