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Child Care Costs in California Exceed Rent and College Tuition

New report finds that child care is unaffordable in 49 out of 50 states.

Topics: California

For parents in California, paying for child care can cost more than sending a child to college or keeping a roof over their heads.

A new report finds that child care is unaffordable in 49 out of 50 states, including California. Child Care Aware has tracked the cost of child care for 10 years, and in 2016 they found that the cost of care is still eating up a significant portion of Californians' paychecks. A few alarming highlights:

  • The cost of center-based care for two children in California is more than twice the annual cost of college tuition at a public four-year college and nearly twice as much as rent.
  • A single mother or father with an infant child will pay more than half of their income for center-based care.
  • For a married couple with two children living at the poverty line, child care actually costs more than their annual income.

Working families lose nearly $29 billion in wages every year because they cannot access high-quality, affordable child care.

Research overwhelmingly shows that quality early care is key to kids' long-term development, and as this report makes clear, too many parents and their children are being priced out. That's why the Right Start Commission calls for a child-centered system in which every family has access to high-quality early learning and care programs for children age 0 to 5.

The status quo is unacceptable. Public polling has shown that there is wide support among Californian voters for increasing the state's support for child care and early education programs. California's leaders must take action to address the affordability crisis and ensure that all families can access the affordable, high-quality care they need.

Teresa Machado
Teresa Machado is Common Sense Kids Action’s Policy Associate for California. She joined Kids Action in 2016 from Early Edge California in Oakland, CA, where she worked to advance policy to improve early education access and quality. Previously, she worked as a district representative for California State Assemblymember Das Williams and began her career in policy as an intern with the California State Assembly Committee on Education.