Child Care Costs Nearly Doubled in 25 Years

According to a report published earlier this month by the United States Census Bureau titled "Who's Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2011" the cost of child care nearly doubled from 1986 to 2011. In 1986, the average family with an employed mother spent $84.30 a week (in 2011 dollars) on childcare compared to $143 in 2011. Despite this dramatic increase in child care costs, the proportion of income spent on child care has remained relatively steady from 6% of the monthly family income spent on child care in 1986 to 7% in 2011. It is also important to note that the wage earned by full-time child care workers has not increased in the past 20 years. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 1990 the average full-time child care worker earned $19,680 (2011 dollars) compared to $19,098 in 2011. Interestingly, it seems the proportion of children cared for by a non-relative in the providers residence declined while the proportion of families who rely on day-care centers or fathers taking care of preschool children has increased. However, despite an increased reliance on organized day care centers, many children are still cared for by relatives. As of 2011, nearly 1 in 4 preschoolers were cared for by a grandparent, about 1 in 5 were cared for by their fathers while their mothers were employed, and 1 in 10 were cared for by a sibling or other relative. For more information on how the demographics of child care has changed, please read the full report at

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