News

March 13, 2019

Child Care Becoming More Unaffordable for Low-Income Parents

Overview

A recent research brief, Child Care Affordability for Working Parents, from the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, finds that many U.S. parents who are highly attached to the labor force would have a difficult time purchasing full-time center-based care.

Spending

This finding is especially true for low-income, Hispanic and black parents. Overall, parents working full time and year-round would spend 10 percent of family income to send their children to full-time center-based child care; low-income parents working full time and year-round would spend 28 percent. Almost all low-income parents working full time and year round would have to spend more than the federal affordability benchmark of 7 percent to send their children to full-time center-based child care.

Ranking

According to the brief, Pennsylvania ranks fifth highest nationally in child care price to income ratios for low-income parents, and in fourth highest for Hispanic parents.

Analysis

Even for families with a parent working a full-time year-round job, full-time center-based child care for young children and care during the school year for school-age children is largely unaffordable. Importantly, the parents included in this analysis are those with a clear need for child care.

This analysis has three key findings about the affordability of center-based care for working parents. First, market-price full-time center-based care would be difficult to afford for a majority of U.S. working parents. Second, center-based child care presents an even greater financial burden for low-income working parents – virtually all (95%) low-income full-time year-round working parents face unaffordable child care costs. Finally, because larger proportions of working black and Hispanic parents earn low incomes than working white and Asian/Pacific Islander parents, child care affordability issues disproportionately affect black and Hispanic working families. This disproportionate burden has the potential to exacerbate racial/ethnic disparities in both family economic security and child wellbeing.

Read the full research brief here