A new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute (EPI), “High Quality Child Care Is Out of Reach for Working Families,” highlights some new data on the high cost of child care throughout the country. For many families, including many here in North Carolina, the cost of child care is prohibitively high, and it continues to rise.
The EPI report measures the income families need in order to attain a modest yet adequate standard of living in more than 600 communities across the country. The findings show that child care costs for families with two children exceed the cost of rent in 500 of those communities. Annual child care costs for 4-year-olds exceeded the average cost of in-state tuition at public universities in 24 states and Washington, D.C., according to EPI’s report. In North Carolina, a year of child care for a 4-year-old costs the same as a year of tuition at UNC-Chapel Hill. Child care for infants and toddlers is even more expensive.
The rising costs are especially challenging for low-wage and minimum wage workers, particularly for single parents and families in which both parents work. In Durham, 75% of children birth to age 5 live with two working parents or a single working parent. Having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, making access to affordable, high-quality child care more important than ever.
Investing in early childhood is one of the best investments we can make. We know that early childhood education is critical for strengthening our economy by supporting our current workforce as well as cultivating a better future workforce. More families need to be able to support their child’s healthy development and continue their own work and education without paying more than rent or a college tuition.
To learn about how the Partnership is working to increase access to child care in Durham, please click here.
To read the full EPI report, please click here.