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This Is How Much Childcare Costs in 2021, New Survey Finds

“Childcare remains one of the largest expenses for families and costs are rising.”
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By Nehal Aggarwal, Editor
Published June 25, 2021
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Earlier this month, Care.com released its eighth annual Cost of Care Survey, finding that childcare costs have been less affordable and accessible as a result of the pandemic.

Each year, the survey looks at the cost of care in America to spotlight how childcare costs impact parents and families on a professional and financial level. This year’s survey found the cost of daycare increased by 87 percent. Meanwhile, the cost of hiring a nanny only increased by 8 percent and has become a more feasible option for many families, as the price gap between center-based childcare and nannies is closing. In fact, many families are turning to in-home care options. But, for some, “Care Deserts” have also become more widespread as a result of the pandemic.

The survey, conducted in early May 2021, looked at 3,000 American parents paying for professional childcare. Of the respondents, 72 percent felt childcare was expensive and 46 percent felt it was harder to find. While 51 percent of the respondents used childcare centers or daycare prior to COVID-19, of them, 61 percent say their centers are not yet fully open or operating.

The findings show 85 percent of parents are spending 10 percent or more of their household income on childcare, which is 3 percent more than what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends. Many parents (62 percent) are concerned about how expensive childcare is becoming, with 43 percent citing increased safety protocols as the root cause of the expenses. According to the survey, 57 percent of respondents spent over $10,000 in childcare in 2020, and 59 percent plan to spend more than that in 2021. In 2020, the average cost of childcare for one kid was $612 per week for a nanny (up from $565 per week in 2019); $340 per week for a childcare or daycare center (up from $182 per week in 2019); and $300 per week for a family care center (up from $177 per week in 2019).

The majority of parents (94 percent) have used at least one big cost-saving strategy in the past year, including reducing work hours (42 percent), changing jobs (26 percent) or leaving the workforce entirely (26 percent). In 2021, 89 percent of parents surveyed said they still plan to utilize cost-saving measures, such as reduced work hours (38 percent), changing jobs (27 percent) or leaving the workforce (24 percent).

“The profound impact that access to child care has on families has never been clearer than throughout the pandemic,” Carrie Cronkey, chief marketing officer of Care.com, said in a statement. “As we begin to fully re-engage with school and work, childcare remains key both in terms of availability and cost. Our annual Cost of Care Survey sheds light on what’s changed, such as the cost gap between daycare and in-home care, and what’s remained the same: the fact that childcare remains one of the largest expenses for families and costs are rising.”

According to the survey, there are things parents can do to help reduce the cost of care, including researching the current rates in your area, talking to your employer about family care benefits and taking advantage of tax breaks and credits. The American Rescue Plan, announced in January 2021, aims to help alleviate some of the financial burden by increasing childcare tax credits—a plan the survey says has the support of 79 percent of the respondents.

To learn more about the findings and ways to help mitigate the rising cost of childcare for your family, check out the full report.

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