Child Care Expenses Push Many Families Into Poverty

Source: Beth Mattingly, Christopher T. Wimer, University of New Hampshire, Carsey School of Public Policy, National Fact Sheet no. 36, Spring 2017

From the summary:
How often are low-income families pushed into poverty by their child care expenses? In this fact sheet, we use the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) to assess the extent to which child care expenses are pushing families with young children into poverty.

Nearly one-third (30.4 percent) of families with young children are poor. To fall under the SPM poverty line means that a family’s income would be less than $26,000 a year on average, with variations by family composition and geographic location. Among poor families with young children, 12.3 percent incur child care expenses according to our analyses of the SPM. For families earning this little income, child care expense can be a burden. Of those who pay for child care, nearly one in ten (9.4 percent) are poor (Figure 1). Roughly one third of these poor families are pushed into poverty by child care expenses. This represents an estimated 207,000 families.

Among families with young children who pay for child care, those with three or more children, those headed by a single parent, those with black or Hispanic household heads, and those headed by someone with less than a high school degree or by someone who does not work full time are most often pushed into poverty by child care expenses. Notably, these are also the families that tend to have the highest rates of poverty.

Key Findings:
• One third of poor families who pay for child care for their young children are pushed into poverty by their child care expenses.
• Families most often pushed into poverty by child care expenses include households with three or more children, those headed by a single parent, those with a black or Hispanic head of household, and those headed by someone with less than a high school degree or by someone who does not work full time.
Related:
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