Report: Average U.S. family pays more than 30% of income on child care—and that hurts us all

See what percentage of income the average family in your state pays for childcare. 

Report: Average U.S. family pays more than 30% of income on child care—and that hurts us all

It’s no secret that child care costs are a burden for many American families. But, according an annual report by The Center for American Progress, the weight of that burden varies dramatically from state to state.

The “Early Learning in the United States” report examined the cost and quality of child care for each of the 50 states and Washington D.C.—and found in almost half the states, families of four are paying 30 percent or more of their state’s median family income on child care.

That means for every dollar from those family’s paychecks, $0.30 cents went straight to child care.

For a family with an infant and 4-year-old child, Louisiana had the lowest annual child care cost at $10,674. That made it just one of two states with a cost that was less than 30 percent of the state's median income for families with children.

Seven of the 10 most affordable states (Louisiana, South Dakota, Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, North Dakota, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Jersey and Utah) are in the south. Meanwhile, the 10 most expensive areas (Washington, Illinois, Minnesota, Rhode Island, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, New York and D.C.) included more coastal states with just a few exceptions.

New York is the most expensive state for families, with the annual cost of child care reaching $25,844—or 38 percent of the median income—but the District of Columbia is even worse: There, child care took 51 percent of the median income for families with children at an annual cost of $40,521.

In other words, with the exorbinant child care costs in Washington D.C., the average family had less than half of their paycheck to cover the rest of their living expenses.

Unfortunately, the high cost of child care doesn’t guarantee kids are getting quality care. According to a February report from The Center for American Progress, only 10 percent of child care programs are considered high-quality, and mechanisms to measure and increase the quality of child care programs are underutilized. Even in publicly funded preschools, the quality of care differs from program to program.

The researchers behind the report argued this doesn’t just hurt individual families, but all of society: When there is affordable, educational care, both young minds and the economy are demonstrably stimulated.

With more than 15 million children living in households in which both parents work, access to affordable child care is important for families across America. Recognizing that, The Center for American Progress encouraged communities and lawmakers to improve the child care system in these ways...

Child care recommendations

-Cap child care costs at 10 percent of a family’s income

-Offer voluntary universal preschool to three and four year olds

-Begin a new, nationally representative study that examines the quality of child care options

Now, the ball is in the court of local advocates and policymakers. And we just hope they recognize that affordable access to quality child care isn’t just in the best interests of families, but of everyone.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


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