Cost of Childcare Continues to Climb

NEW YORK (MainStreet) —Parents are paying much more for childcare than they did 20 years ago, according to a new report released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Over the past two decades, childcare costs have nearly doubled, the report states. American families with working moms spent on average $143 per week on childcare in 2011 compared to $84 per week in 1985.

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The increase could be due to more demand because more mothers have joined the workforce since the 1980s or simply because parents are willing to spend more on childcare, according to the study’s author, Lynda Laughlin.

“The childcare market is way more complex,” she said. “Supply and demand for childcare often varies at the local level.”

The report suggests that more families are using relatives to pitch in and help, which would likely be a cheaper alternative than daycare. About 42% of families prefer to have their kids receive care from a family member while 24% chose care from a daycare center, nursery school or babysitter.

The report also showed that fewer grade school aged children are spending time unsupervised during a typical week.

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“Children with an employed single parent who spent time unsupervised dropped from 24% in 1997 to 14% in 2011,” Laughlin said.

Laughlin believes it could be because parents are getting better work schedules and there’s been an increase in available afterschool programs.

The report also suggests that more fathers have also stepped in to watch the kids.

“If he works part-time or not at all, then he is more available,” Laughlin said. “During the recent recession we saw an increase in father provided child care or they are more likely to provide care if they worked a night shift.”