Child Care Costs Exceed 10 Percent of Family Income for One in Four Families

Source: Beth Mattingly, Andrew Schaefer, Jessica Carson, University of New Hampshire, Carsey School of Public Policy, National Issue Brief #109, Fall 2016

From the summary:
Access to quality, affordable child care is critical for American working families, and it is a major focus of efforts to bring about more family-friendly workplaces. In this brief, we analyze families’ child care expenses and identify, among families with young children (under age 6) who pay for child care, the share that are “cost burdened,” defined here as spending more than 10 percent of their gross income on child care. Using data from the 2012–2016 Current Population Survey, we present our findings by number of children; age of youngest child; parental characteristics; family income measures; and U.S. region, metropolitan status, and state. Unless otherwise noted, families include only those with children under age 6 who had any child care costs in the previous year…..

Key Findings:
• About one in four (26.8 percent, or 1.4 million) families with young children who have child care costs are “burdened” by the cost, spending more than 10 percent of family income on child care.
• Across families with young children, an average of 8.8 percent of family income is spent on child care.
• More than half (52.3 percent) of poor families with young children are cost burdened by child care, compared to 39.3 percent of low income families (those with incomes between one and two times the poverty threshold) and just 13.4 percent of families at or above five times the poverty threshold ($120,180 for two adults and two children in 2015).
• One in five married couples, and two in five single parents with young children and child care expenses, pay more than 10 percent of their income on these costs.