College savings? How about saving up for day care?

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New parents might start socking away money to pay for their child’s college education, but how many save up for day care?

In Connecticut and many states, the cost of child care can exceed that of a higher education. That’s according to a study by ChildCare Aware America, which advocates to promote child care.

In Connecticut and 26 other states, as well as Washington, D.C., the cost of center-based child care for an infant exceeds the cost of a higher education at a public college or university. Center-based care refers to day care centers or preschool settings.

College costs versus child-care costs
In Connecticut and most other states, sending a child to day care is more costly than putting one through college. This map shows the costs care for infant, four-year-old and school-age children, as well as the average cost of fees at public colleges and universities by state. The ‘Percent difference’ is the difference in cost between the infant and college fee costs. The darker the color, the more expensive childcare is compared to college.
Source: ChildCare Aware of America
Jake Kara / TrendCT.org

In its 2015 report “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care,” ChildCare Aware estimates that in Connecticut the annual cost of care for an infant is $13,880 and college tuition and fees are $10,620. That puts day care at around 31% higher than college tuition.

ChildCare Aware’s estimate for infant care matches $267-per-week estimates from the United Way and the CT Office of Early Childhood. The advocacy group’s college tuition and fees numbers are based on Figure 8 of College Board’s annual Trends in College Pricing report, table 8: 2014-15 In-State Tuition and Fees at Public Four-Year Institutions by State and Five-Year Percentage Change in Inflation-Adjusted Tuition and Fees.

The report goes on to say that the cost of child care can make up a very large portion of a family’s expenses. In Connecticut, the cost of infant care represents 46% of a single-parent household’s $30,019 median income and 12% of a married-couple household’s $112,382 median income.

The report estimates the largest share of children under 5, 35%, are in center-based care, while the rest are cared for by grandparents (32%), other non-parent relatives (10%), family child care homes (8%), at a friend or neighbor’s home (5%), or at the child’s home (5%).

Child care and college costs
Child care costs more than public college education in Connecticut and a little more than half of states in the nation. This chart shows the cost of child care based on age group, the cost of college at public universities and percentage difference between infant care and college costs.
State Infant 4-year-old School-age College costs Percent difference
District of Columbia 22631 17842 13623 7422 204.9
Massachusetts 17062 12781 3414 10951 55.8
Minnesota 14366 11119 FALSE 10527 37.3
New York 14144 11700 8346 7292 5.6
Maryland 13932 9100 4095 8724 59.7
Connecticut 13880 11502 5323 10620 30.7
Colorado 13154 9882 5022 9487 38.7
Illinois 12964 9567 8498 12770 1.5
Rhode Island 12867 10040 5409 10934 0.5
Washington 12733 9588 4521 10846 3.6
California 11817 8230 2649 9173 28.8
New Hampshire 11810 9457 4798 14712 -7.6
Wisconsin 11579 9469 8849 8781 21.4
New Jersey 11534 9546 3475 13002 -28.4
Oregon 11322 8787 3655 8932 3.8
Vermont 11270 9970 5562 14419 14.5
Kansas 11201 7951 3588 8086 38.5
Delaware 11000 8268 3500 11448 -3.9
Alaska 10957 7652 6471 6138 78.5
Pennsylvania 10640 8072 5692 13246 8.1
Virginia 10458 7957 3399 10899 -13.2
Michigan 9882 6764 4207 11909 -17.0
Nevada 9852 8118 7219 6418 -6.9
Maine 9512 6870 4439 9422 1.0
Iowa 9485 8216 4618 7857 20.7
Arizona 9437 7497 6361 10398 -9.2
North Carolina 9255 7592 3801 6677 9.6
Montana 9062 7922 7778 6279 9.5
Ohio 8977 7341 5008 10100 5.6
Indiana 8918 6760 4719 9023 -1.2
Texas 8759 6730 3216 8830 -10.6
Florida 8694 7668 3962 6351 36.9
Utah 8641 6612 6012 6177 -13.3
Missouri 8632 9308 4602 8383 21.8
Hawaii 8280 9312 8919 9740 -15.0
North Dakota 8217 7511 FALSE 7513 8.0
New Mexico 7942 7098 3286 6190 0.8
Nebraska 7926 6843 6455 7404 -3.7
West Virginia 7926 5813 6605 6661 18.6
Georgia 7644 6500 3692 8094 -5.6
Idaho 7200 6924 4661 6602 9.1
Oklahoma 6788 5123 3936 6895 -12.7
Wyoming 6541 5833 4150 4646 -23.7
South Carolina 6475 4651 2257 11449 -23.1
Kentucky 6294 5499 5557 9188 -31.5
Arkansas 5995 4995 4317 7567 -20.8
Tennessee 5857 4515 1838 8541 -28.1
Louisiana 5747 4914 1104 7314 -21.4
South Dakota 5661 4804 4005 7653 -27.6
Alabama 5637 4871 5308 9470 -40.5
Mississippi 4822 3997 1569 6861 -32.3
ChildCare Aware

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