Jun 14, 2023 - News

Pennsylvania's surging childcare costs

Illustration of a wooden bead and wire child's play set with a dollar sign created from the twisting wire

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Childcare is becoming so expensive that some Pennsylvania parents have quit jobs or left the workforce entirely to care for their children.

Driving the news: The average cost of center-based daycare in Pennsylvania in 2021 was $11,346, amounting to 10 percent of a married couple's median income, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

  • The burden on single parents was much higher, representing 35% of their median incomes.

Why it matters: Rising childcare costs can be financially crippling and disproportionately impact single working women, families of color and immigrants, experts say.

The big picture: Twelve percent of Pennsylvania's children under 5 lived in households in which someone quit, changed jobs or couldn't work because of childcare barriers.

  • Women were five to eight times more likely than men to suffer "negative employment consequences," per the report.

By the numbers: Center-based care for two children ate up about 56% of Black working mothers' median household incomes — more than double that of a white working mother, per an analysis of 2017 national data cited in the report.

  • For Latinos and Native American and Alaska Natives, it was 42% and 51%, respectively.

Yes, but: Home-based care in Pennsylvania was about $2,400 cheaper on average than center-based care.

What they're saying: Experts say more can be done to help struggling families. About 12 million children are in childcare, but only 1.3 million currently receive federal subsidies to offset costs.

Plus, an industry-wide staff shortage has exacerbated the problem of access and affordability, with children being waitlisted. The average Pennsylvania childcare worker earned $12.50 an hour, King said.

💰 Mike’s thought bubble: My monthly childcare costs for two children under 4 feels like a college tuition.

  • I also don’t understand why free schooling (i.e. childcare) begins for kids at 3 years old and not earlier.

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