Monday, September 10, 2012 • 8:22 AM Comments ()

Child Care is So Expensive!

posted by Amy Pybus

A Facebook friend of mine posted this recent parenting.com article called "Child Care: More Expensive than Rent?"

What, oh what is Amy going to say in response to this article?

Well my first thought, of course, was that I'm not making nearly as much as the guy claims I am - about $3500 less per child per year than the number he quoted. And that's just my gross before expenses. Hmm, maybe I'm not charging enough...

But no matter what people are paying, if they have two parents working full-time, they're making more than their provider. Not that that matters all that much, and I understand how ridiculously expensive it is. I paid for child care - and counted my pennies the whole time.

But I often think that people have the perception that because it is such a big chunk of their income, that the provider must be just sitting back raking it in. Trust me, I haven't been financially secure since I opened my business. Plus I work far harder at this job than ANY JOB I'VE EVER HAD. And I've had a lot of jobs.

I also thought about how providers have no safety net, no health insurance, no paid days off, no sick time, and rarely get paid for vacation.

We also don't get lunch or coffee breaks. But I'm not here to complain about my job, rather to give some perspective.

I wanted to explain that requirements for child care workers are increasing every year. We are pushed more and more to earn college degrees. People who earn college degrees have to make enough to pay those courses off - that's pretty simple math. We used to have grants for taking courses, but those funds dried up long long ago.

Also, requirements for what centers must offer to the children are increasing. Instead of just hanging out and playing games, we have to provide formal curriculum. Many programs now pay extra for curriculum packages and progress reporting for each child. Safety measures are also increasing, which is great for the kids, but expensive for us.

The article talks about how costs everywhere are going up, and that certainly doesn't exclude providers. We have to pay more for milk too, just like everybody else. And I guarantee I go through a lot more of it than most families.

Our insurance costs are skyrocketing and many companies simply won't handle day care centers. It has become a specialty field, and you have to search out the agent in your area who will even consider taking you on.

The article says infant care is more expensive, and that's true, because infants are harder to care for. Parents have to tighten the belt and pay quite a bit more for that year, but then it's over. Most providers lower the charge for an infant after a year or so.

Whenever child care comes down to a question of cost, though, I automatically think of this. You are trusting me with your most precious (I hope) possession. Is protecting your most precious possession worth it? When your child is with me from 8AM to 5PM and during that time I am giving them a safe place and loving care?

It's a bargain, really, when you think of how much you would pay a babysitter for the same amount of time. (Another reason we don't like that moniker.)

And then when they're five, they go to public school (9AM to 3PM), and you realize that this FREE service is why taxes are a really good and important thing. Kids are expensive for their whole lives. If you're not willing to bleed money for them, don't have them.

And finally, if you don't want to pay for child care, stay home with them. If you must work but are still struggling with the cost, look for a local government agency that handles vouchers. Or lobby your representatives to advocate for subsidized child care (a pipe dream, considering our schools are barely making it). Most of my clients want to have a career and are happy to have their kids with me, and it works for all of us.

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