Child Care State Reports . II. Affordability [5]

12/01/1999

  • Prices for child care vary considerably, by such factors as geographic area, type of provider and age of child.  Figure 2 shows the average monthly prices for child care in California.  Given that these are average prices, it is clear that many families pay more or less than this amount.
  • Centers in California charge an average of $420 per month for preschool care and $577 per month for infant care, as shown in Figure 2.  This means that a family with $15,000 in income and one preschool child in an average-priced center would spend more than one-third (34 percent) of its total monthly income on child care expenses.  Average-priced infant care would represent an even higher share (46 percent) of monthly income for a family earning $15,000.
  • Family child care homes in California charge an average of $422 per month for preschool children and $432 per month for infants.  This means that a family with $15,000 in income and one child in an average-priced family child care home would spend 34 percent of its monthly income on care for a preschool child or 35 percent for an infant.
  • Families who receive child care subsidies usually pay much smaller monthly co-payments, rather than the full market rate.  Such co-payments are established under a sliding fee schedule, and are based on family size, income and the number of children in care.  For example, a family with $15,000 in income and one preschooler or infant in an average-priced center in California would be charged a monthly co-payment of $43, or about three percent of monthly income, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. Child Care Prices and Co-Payments for a Hypothetical California Family of Three Earning $15,000 with One Child in Care
  WITHOUT SUBSIDY WITH SUBSIDY
Average Monthly Prices
(Full Time Care)
% of Income
(Family Income of $15,000 Annually)
Monthly Co-Payments*
(If receive subsidy)
% of Income*
(Family Income of $15,000 Annually)
INFANT (1 year)
Center-based $577 46.1% $43 3.4%
Family child care home $432 34.6% $43 3.4%
PRESCHOOLER (4 years)
Center-based $420 33.5% $43 3.4%
Family child care home $422 33.8% $43 3.4%

* State policy does not prevent providers from charging parents additional amounts, above the co-payment, if the providers’ rates exceed the state reimbursement level.  Maximum reimbursement rates in California, however, exceed the statewide average prices.  Figures in this table represent the minimum co-payment.

Source:  Price data collected by the Urban Institute from the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, a statewide child care resource and referral agency, summer 1999.  Co-payment data collected by the Urban Institute from the California Department of Education, summer 1999.