Families across the U.S. spend an average of $8,355 a year on child care for each kid, which can hamper parents' employment opportunities and impact household budgets.
Parents, on average, spend a little over $750 per child per month during the school year and an average of $834 for summer child care, according to a May survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of Bankrate among nearly 3,500 adults, including roughly 700 parents with children under age 18.
In 2019, prior to the pandemic, families spent an average of $9,200 to $9,600 per child on child care, according to Child Care Aware. The nonprofit calculates that families headed by married couples spend about 10% of household income on child care while single parents spend about 34% of their income.
Child-care expenses can vary dramatically by location and quality, which can drive up the average cost. Bankrate's survey found the median cost that families spend each year on child care is far less, just $2,859.
Yet there's no denying child-care costs are a burden for many families. Nearly half, 46%, of the parents surveyed plan to enroll their children in some type of child care, camp or program this summer and of those, about half say they're planning to rack up credit card debt to pay for the expense.
"Monthly child-care costs can feel like an extra mortgage payment, especially if you live in an expensive area or have more than one kid," says Ted Rossman, Bankrate's senior industry analyst.
Other parents are planning on altering their work schedules to care for their children this summer.
That's already the case for many families. About 45% of parents with children under 18 say they took those steps throughout the pandemic, and about 17% of parents say they or their spouse stopped working altogether during the pandemic to care for their children.
But many families will get a bit of a reprieve this year. The IRS is set to start distributing the enhanced $3,000 child tax credit as advanced payments on July 15. The agency said on Monday that about 39 million households are slated to receive monthly payments between July and December.
Families can receive up to $300 per month for each child under age 6 and up to $250 per month for each child ages 6 to 17. The new enhanced benefits are income-based and start to phase out for individuals earning more than $75,000 a year or $150,000 for couples married filing jointly.
Currently, the enhanced tax credit is only for 2021, although Democrats would like to see that extended. President Joe Biden supports extending the credit to 2025, while some progressive Democrats in Congress want to make the credit permanent.
In addition to an expanded child tax credit, parents may also see their child-care costs drop. President Biden is calling for legislation that would help families with child-care costs. Under his American Families Plan, U.S. households earning less than 1.5 times their state median income levels would not pay for child care. Those earning above that threshold would pay no more than 7% of their income for child care.