News

Child care costs soar in Washington state

TACOMA, Wash. - According to Child Care Aware of America, Washington state ranks 3rd in the nation for least affordable child care for an infant in a family child care program and 7th least affordable for care of an infant in a child care center. 

The state also ranks 4th in the nation for least affordable care of a toddler in a family child care program and 7th for care of a toddler in a center. 

This is the 5th year in a row that Washington has ranked among the top 10 least affordable states for child care, according to the new 2017 report "Parents and the High Cost of Child Care," released on Wednesday.

According to CCAA, this means that in Washington the average cost to have an infant in a child care center is 15.4% of median income for a married couple and a daunting 51.5% of median income for a single mother. The average cost of having a toddler in a child care center isn't much lower, about 13.2% of median income for a married couple and 44% of median income for a single mother.

With approximately 60% of all of Washington's children under age 6 residing in families where all adults work, the child care system is a key component of our state's economy. 

Right now, costs for infant care is surpassing the cost of annual tuition at state colleges. Child care supply is dwindling and child care professionals continue to be underpaid to the point where they must rely on public assistance, according to the CCA. 

"High-quality child care is essential for working families in Washington. Every year we connect thousands of families with child care providers in their regions, and what we hear from them is that affording child care is very challenging. This is unsustainable. Washington can, and should, do better," said Robin Lester, chief executive officer of Child Care Aware of Washington, an affiliate of Child Care Aware of America. 

Other key findings of the 2017 report show that the cost of caring for an infant in a family child care program consumes 11.7% of the Washington median income for married couples and 39.2% of median income for single mothers. For toddlers, the costs take 10.5% of median income for married couples and 35.2% of median income for single mothers. Washington also ranks 7th least affordable in the U.S. for care of a 4-year-old in a child care center, with costs taking 11.7% of median income for married couples and 39.1% of median income for single moms. 

Child Care Aware of Washington tracks child care supply, demand and costs statewide and in every county in our state. 

For example, in King County our data show the median cost for center-based care for infants is 23% of the state's median household income and 15% at family child care programs. In Yakima County, the percentages are 20% of state median household income for center-based infant care, and 18% for infant care in a family care program. In Spokane County, the percentages are 20% and 15% respectively for infant care.

All of these data reports are available here.


LOCAL AND REGIONAL NEWS

THIS WEEK'S CIRCULARS