Childcare Costs Continue to Rise So Far in 2020, Survey Says

And it’s taking both a financial and an emotional toll on families.
ByNehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
Jul 2020
money folded into the shape of hearts

The cost of childcare in America is just too high—and it’s still on the rise.

Care.com’s annual Cost of Care survey looks at how the costs of childcare in America are changing year over year. Their most recent survey looked at responses from 3,848 parents in the United States during the month of May 2020. It found that only 25 percent of families were comfortably able to afford childcare, while 53 percent were somewhat able to afford and 23 percent were unable to afford.

Of the respondents, 82 percent said they budgeted for childcare, but the majority (58 percent) said they started budgeting after baby arrived. Budgeting methods included cutting down on date night and social events (46 percent), relying on family to help with childcare (42 percent) and reducing non-child related household costs, such as gym memberships, groceries, cable, etc. (42 percent).

On the whole, 70 percent of parents were surprised by childcare costs, including diapers (surprising for 33 percent of parents) and formula (surprising for 31 percent of parents), with 75 percent of families saying the costs were more than they expected.

Compared with 2019, parents are spending more on childcare. On the whole, 72 percent of families are spending 10 percent of their household income on childcare; 50 percent are spending 15 percent or more of their household income; 33 percent of families spend 20% or more of their household income on childcare; and 19 percent of families spend 25% or more of their household income on childcare. For 2019, these figures, respectively, were 71 percent, 48 percent, 31 percent and 18 percent. Plus, the survey found that 74 percent of families spend at least $5,000 annually on childcare, while 55 percent of families spend at least $10,000 per year.

All these expenses have taken an emotional toll, as 38 percent of parents say that they’re waiting longer to have kids or are having fewer kids than they would have liked. Similarly, while 60 percent of working parents, prior to having kids, said the cost of childcare probably wouldn’t influence their career decisions, 54 percent said they have made career and workplace changes to afford childcare costs. These changes included changing jobs for increased take-home pay (37 percent), asking for a more flexible work schedule (34 percent) and changing jobs for better family benefits (26 percent).

Stunningly, 49 percent of working parents said their employer didn’t seem to care about their childcare needs, while only 18 percent said their employer offered childcare benefits. Considering this, it’s unsurprising that 87 percent of parents wished their employer offered childcare benefits, while 71 percent said their job had been impacted at times because their childcare plans fell through last-minute. Top ways parents’ jobs had been impacted were using a sick day (67 percent), being late to work (55 percent) and using a vacation day (39 percent).

While the ongoing pandemic has impacted childcare for 84 percent of families, it has also allowed 60 percent to spend less (due to their childcare being unavailable). Furthermore, 82 percent of parents now have more appreciation for their childcare provider as a result of the pandemic, and 98 percent agree childcare is crucial for parents to get back to work as we reopen America. In fact, 92 percent of parents feel childcare is a topic that should get more attention from the government as a result of the pandemic.

To see the full survey, visit Care.com.

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