Child Care Affordability Is Out of Reach for Many Low-Income Hispanic Households

Source: Danielle A. Crosby, Julia L. Mendez, Amanda Barnes, National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families, October 2019

From the overview:
Hispanic households tend to have both high levels of parental employment and low levels of income, making access to good-quality child care a critical need for these families. Child care has the potential to serve as a two-generation investment strategy, with both short- and long- term economic and social benefits, by supporting parents’ ability to work and providing enrichment opportunities for children.

Affordability is a key factor shaping families’ access to care. Even when communities have an adequate supply of good-quality child care that meets parents’ and children’s needs and families are aware of these options, care remains inaccessible if costs are beyond household budgets. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends that child care be considered affordable if family out-of-pocket costs are equivalent to 7 percent or less of total household income. Yet in every state in the nation, the average price of formal child care (e.g., centers and licensed or regulated family child care) exceeds this recommended benchmark of affordability.

To reduce financial barriers and support more equitable access, several federal and state programs provide low-income families with no- or low-cost early care and education (ECE) options, including Head Start, public pre-kindergarten, and subsidies through the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). While the reach of these programs has expanded over the years, funding constraints mean that not all eligible children can be served. In the absence of such programs or when co-payments are high, low-income families are often priced out of the formal, licensed care settings that tend to be more stable and of higher quality than more informal arrangements.