Average Cost of Child Care in the US
The cost of child care has increased over the years. ChildCare Aware of America's (CCAoA) recent 2022 report found that families spend an average of $10,273 annually for child care. It exceeds other household expenses, such as housing, transportation and food, in three of the four regions CCAoA included in their study.
Child care has increased over the last few years. According to Care.com, single-child families paid $694 per week for a nanny in 2021. Two years before that in 2019, a nanny cost them $565. The change in day care rates is considerably less impactful. They charge an average of $11 more per week in 2021 than in 2019.
Keep in mind that these figures vary depending on your location, child care provider and the provider’s experience level.
- The average cost of child care per year is $10,273, according to CCAoA.
- Child care occupies an estimated 10% to 20% of household income for most American families.
- In 2021, the weekly average for hiring a nanny was $694.
- In 2021, the weekly average for hiring a child care center was $226.
- Child care costs are rising due to decreasing supply of quality child care facilities and workers.
- Mississippi, South Dakota, Kentucky, Arkansas and Alabama are the most affordable states for center-based child care.
Average Cost of Nannies
Parenthood comes with inherent costs. They include purchasing health insurance for your child and arranging child care when you and your partner are away for work, dates, running errands and other commitments.
Some families invest in hiring a nanny because of the benefits. A nanny provides consistent care without requiring either parent to sacrifice work. This option also gives the parents more autonomy and control of their care preferences. For example, you can ask your nanny to limit your child's television time or other undesired activities. You can even request a report at the end of the day. This type of care will cost more.
Source: Child Care Costs in 2022
A nanny can help make life easier. However, quality child care with the necessary attention to detail doesn't come cheap. As of 2021, weekly rates for single-child families increased by almost 29% from 2019, reaching $694. Similarly, you'll spend more if you have two children. Rates in 2021 were at $715 per week — approximately 22% higher than rates two years earlier.
CCAoA's most recent report shows that the average cost of child care exceeds college tuition fees in four regions. It takes up more than 10% of the median income of a married couple with children under 18. However, the impact is more significant if you're parenting without a partner. In this case, child care costs consume around 35% of the median income, contributing to financial challenges for single parents.
Average Cost of Day Care Centers
Hiring a nanny (i.e., family child care) isn't your only child care option. You can also consider using a child care center, also known as center-based child care or “day care.” It might be a better option if cost is a concern.
Aside from the benefit of savings, choosing day care gives your child opportunities to engage with other children and their teachers, helping them develop social skills and form relationships. Some day care providers have a background in child development, offering additional benefits.
Source: Child Care Costs in 2022
Compared to how much you need to spend if you hire a nanny, you'll spend considerably less on day care. However, neither option is considered cheap.
Like most services and commodities, the weekly rates of child care centers have increased, although not by much. Weekly rates in 2019 averaged $215. In 2021, families spent around $226 per week, assuming they only enrolled one child. Those with two children paid an additional $20 weekly.
Another challenge concerning day care is supply. Although the COVID-19 pandemic caused a drastic decrease in the available licensed child care centers, their numbers had already started to decline before that. CCAoA's 2020 report, Picking Up the Pieces, found that more than half the states had fewer day cares from 2018 to 2019. The gap became more pronounced from 2019 to 2021, when 8,889 licensed child care centers closed. That translates to a 9% loss.
Child Care Cost per State
As with most things, where you live will influence your cost of living. The average cost of child care varies by state. MoneyGeek's infographic shows the difference between center-based and family child care for infants and toddlers.
The average cost of child care per year varies by state, depending on several factors. One is whether you use center-based or family child care services. The other is whether these services are for infants or toddlers.
Regardless of the type of child care service, you'll typically spend more with an infant than a toddler. Massachusetts and Washington consistently have the highest child care costs for infants and toddlers.
The other states with the most expensive child care costs per year are as follows:
Center-Based For Infants
Family Child Care For Infants
Center-Based For Toddlers
Family Child Care For Toddlers
New Jersey ($15,141)
Rhode Island ($11,440)
Rhode Island ($11,700)
For Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Kentucky and South Dakota, the cost difference is more dependent on the type of child care service. Generally, center-based care is more expensive than family child care.
Missouri, Arkansas, South Dakota and Mississippi, have some of the most affordable child care costs, regardless of your child's age or type of service.
Top 10 States With the Highest Child Care Rates
Day care can cost thousands of dollars, but it might be the more affordable child care option. With Massachusetts at the top with an annual cost of over $22,000.
Annual Cost of Center-Based Care for Infants
Top 10 States with Most Affordable Child Care Rates
Although child care comes with a cost, you won't always have to spend tens of thousands of dollars for center-based care. Mississippi has the most affordable center-based care for infants at $5,933 annually.
Annual Cost of Center-Based Care for Infants
Average Cost of Child Care FAQs
Most people know you must spend on child care, but not everyone realizes how much it could set you back. MoneyGeek included some commonly asked questions to help you better understand the average cost of child care and how it may affect your finances.
Expert Insights on the Cost of Child Care
MoneyGeek asked subject matter experts for their insight about average child care costs in the U.S. Here is their feedback about contributing factors to the rising rates and what families can do to manage their finances and budget for necessary child care.
- What factors have contributed to the rising cost of child care?
- Considering the rising costs of child care, what advice can you give families that can help them manage their finances without sacrificing quality child care for their children?
Head of Marketing and Communications at June Care
Founder and CEO of Onsite Kids
Child care is only one important expense in a family’s budget. There are other expenses associated with having a child. Here are some online resources that can help you with your family planning.
- Pregnancy Money Moves: Financial Steps for Expecting and New Parents: Beginning a family changes your life. MoneyGeek shares some strategies about how to prepare for financial changes and what you can do to lessen financial stress.
- Financial Guide to Being a Foster Parent: Fostering a child is an honor. You must be ready for how it will change your life and theirs. This page walks you through how you can prepare yourself financially. Consider their assistance and support programs.
- 7 Financial Planning Activities You’ll Forget to Do Once Your Baby is Born: With a new addition to the family, there will be little time for anything else. It could lead to some things falling through the cracks. MoneyGeek shares a checklist of items to plan for to ensure you’ve covered most everything (if not everything).
- The Average Cost of Giving Birth in the US: Some expenses are commonly associated with giving birth. Use this guide to plan for your family ahead of your baby's arrival.
- Budgeting for a Baby: Having a child is a major life change, and experiencing some stress, including financial stress, is normal. MoneyGeek walks you through what to expect, including fertility treatments, pre-natal check-ups and expenses during your baby’s first year.
About Angelique Cruz
- ABC Quality. "What are the Benefits of Sending My Child to Daycare?." Accessed February 15, 2023.
- Care. "This Is How Much Child Care Costs in 2022." Accessed February 15, 2023.
- ChildCare Aware of America. "Demanding Change: Repairing Our Child Care System." Accessed February 15, 2023.
- ChildCare Aware of America. "Picking Up the Pieces: Building a Better Child Care System Post COVID-19." Accessed February 15, 2023.