Childcare Costs Rise, Despite Economic Downturn
More than ever before, American parents are paying as much or more for child care as they do for food, rent or mortgages each month, and Pitkin County is no exception.

According to a report released this week by the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2010 Update, low- and middle-income parents have limited access to affordable, quality care. In every U.S. region, the average center-based child care fee for an infant exceeded the average annual amount that families spent on food. In every state, monthly child care fees for two children at any age exceeded the median monthly rent cost, and were nearly as high, or even higher than, the average monthly mortgage payment.

“Parents in the Roaring Fork Valley need child care in order to work,” said Shirley Ritter, director of Kids First. “Because child care can be so expensive, it is often times the first thing families are forced to cut. Parents begin to look for less-expensive options, often times unregulated care, which could potentially jeopardize the health and safety of the children. That’s why it is more important now than ever before that we make high-quality child care more affordable for all families.”

In Pitkin County the tuition charged to parents averages $60 a day, or over $14,000 a year for full-time care for one infant or toddler age child. It is $58 a day, over $13,750 a year, for one preschool age child.

Because of the high cost to provide care in Pitkin County, Kids First offers financial aid to qualifying families.

“Right now over 60 families get help paying for child care,” Ritter said. “This represents over 84 children in child care in Pitkin County. Through the City of Aspen dedicated sales tax, Kids First also subsidizes child care program operations, offers coaching, substitute teachers, helps pay for staff education and gives grants to improve quality to keep child care affordable to families.”

Today, more than 11 million children under age 5 are in some type of child care arrangement every week. On average, children of working mothers spend 36 hours a week in child care. Studies repeatedly have shown that high-quality child care helps children enter school ready to learn.

To improve access to affordable, high-quality child care for all families at the national level, NACCRRA is calling on Congress to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the primary public source of child care funds to states to help pay for child care and improve the quality of care.

For more information, visit (The direct link to the report is here:  Kids First is a partner with NACCRRA at the national level.

Posted on Sunday, September 05, 2010