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Child Care Costs Unaffordable For Most

ARLINGTON, VA., Dec. 4, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- For the eighth year in a row, data from Child Care Aware of America's Parents and the High Cost of Child Care report shows child care costs continue to be a heavy lift for America's working families. The 2014 report shows that the cost of child care in the United States can be as much as $14,508 annually for an infant, or $12,280 annually for a four-year-old in a center, and does not always guarantee a quality environment.

The 2014 report will be released at a special media event at the National Press Club, where a panel of experts in child care, public policy and advocacy will discuss the key findings from this year's report.

"Quality, affordable child care provides critical support to our nation's workforce and is one of the earliest learning settings our children will enter," said Lynette Fraga, Ph.D., executive director of Child Care Aware of America. "It's time to address the disparity between high child care costs and low provider wages, and find a solution to what has become a crisis."

Studies show that increased access to quality, affordable child care raises employee morale and company loyalty, and can even save U.S. businesses as much as $3 billion a year. Moreover, exposure to quality learning environments during the earliest and most fundamental years of brain development set children up for a lifetime of success. Of children who arrive at school without the skills needed to succeed, more than 85 percent are still behind in fourth grade.

Child care made national headlines in November with the passage of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014. The legislation, which provides child care subsidy dollars for low-income families, had not previously been reauthorized since 1996. "The passage of CCDBG is a terrific win for children and families that deserves a lot of celebration," said Carol Scott, Ph.D., Board President of Child Care Aware of America, "But many families earning too much to receive child care subsidies still struggle to pay for quality care."

Melissa Hudson, a mother, military veteran and family advocate, recently opened her own child care facility after she struggled with finding a quality program she could afford. Hudson admits that the stress of paying for child care often causes parents to compromise on the quality of their child care programs. "Everyday people who have great jobs still struggle… I see the pain that some of the parents experience, and I'm an advocate for the providers as well."

Overhead expenses in child care programs account for a majority of the expense, meaning most child care providers make little more than minimum wage. "If I'm watching one infant at the rate that you want me to charge you for 10 hours a day, I'm making $4 an hour. Who can live off of that?" Hudson asked in an interview during Child Care Aware of America's Family Advocacy Summit in September.

This year's annual report on child care costs will highlight solutions along with significant trends and analysis of America's child care costs.

To download a copy of Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2014 Report, along with infographics, please visit www.usa.childcareaware.org

Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2014 Report
Key Findings and Recommendations

Key findings:
-The cost of full-time center-based care for two children is the highest single household expense in the Northeast, Midwest and South. In the West, the cost of child care for two children is surpassed only by the cost of housing in the average family budget.
-The cost of child care for two children exceeded housing costs for homeowners with a mortgage in 23 states and the District of Columbia.
-Center-based child care fees for an infant exceeded annual median rent payments in 22 states and the District of Columbia.
-Child care fees for two children (an infant and a 4-year-old) in a child care center exceeded annual median rent payments in every state.
-In every region of the United States, average child care fees for an infant in a child care center were higher than the average amount that families spent on food.
-In 2013, in 30 states and the District of Columbia, the average annual average cost for an infant in center-based care was higher than a year's tuition and fees at a four-year public college.
-Even the annual average cost of care for a 4-year-old, which is less expensive than care for an infant, was higher than public college costs in 20 states and the District of Columbia.
The 10 least-affordable states in 2013 for center-based care based on the cost of child care as a percentage of state median income for a two-parent family (in ranked order):
For full-time center-based infant care: New York, Colorado, Oregon, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Washington, Illinois, Nevada, California and Kansas.
For full-time center-based care for a 4-year-old: New York, Vermont, Oregon, Nevada, Minnesota, Colorado, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine.
Recommendations:
- A national discussion about the impact of the high cost of child care and the cost of quality in child care. This conversation should explore federal and state options; innovative, low-cost solutions that have shown success; what has worked in other industries; and what models currently exist within communities that have seen success.
- Congress to review and consider what policy options are available to help families offset the rising cost of child care, including, but not limited to raising dependent care limits for deductions or providing additional tax credits for families and providers, public- private partnerships and to look to existing state's with successful financing models.
- Congress to require the National Academy of Sciences to produce a study on the true cost of quality child care and to offer recommendations to Congress for financing that supports families in accessing affordable, quality child care.
- Federal and state governments to commit to investing in early care and education programs, especially considering the recent historical progress at the federal level towards ensuring all children in low-income, working families have access to affordable, quality child care.
- We call on federal and state policymakers to make child care a top priority when working on budgets.
- We call on parents, concerned citizens and early care and education professionals to urge federal and state legislators to address the often overwhelming cost of quality child care.
- Provide resources for planning and developing child care capacity to increase the availability of high quality child care options for working families.

- Reduce barriers in the subsidy administration process that prevent families from receiving assistance.
- Require states to have more effective sliding fee assistance phase-out plans to ensure that parents who receive a modest raise do not lose all child care assistance.
- Provide child care assistance to families who do not qualify for fee assistance but who cannot afford the market cost of child care in their community.
- Authorize funds for pilots in high poverty rural communities to explore strategies that braid multiple funding sources to better meet the child care needs of working parents (meeting the criteria of the strongest funding stream to ensure safe, quality care for children

About Child Care Aware of America



Child Care Aware of America, our nation's leading voice for child care, works with state and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies to ensure that families in every local community have access to quality, affordable child care. To achieve our mission, we lead projects that increase the quality and availability of child care, offer comprehensive training to child care professionals, undertake groundbreaking research and advocate for child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families. To learn more about Child Care Aware of America and how you can join us in ensuring access to quality child care for all families, visit www.usa.childcareaware.org.

A photo accompanying this release is available at:
http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=29463

CONTACT: Nancy Cook Chief of Development, Communications and Marketing Child Care Aware of America nancy.cook@usa.childcareaware.org 703-341-4130

Source: Child Care Aware of America