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 Hartford and New Britain, Connecticut. Given that these are average prices, it is clear that many families pay more or less than these amounts.
  • Centers in Hartford, Connecticut charge an average of $481 per month for preschool care and $618 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 (38 percent) of its total monthly income on child care expenses. Average-priced infant care would represent an even higher share (50 percent) of monthly income for a family earning $15,000.
  • In New Britain, Connecticut, center-based care costs an average of $480 per month for preschool care, or 38 percent of monthly income for a family earning $15,000, as shown in Figure 2. The average price for infant center-based care in New Britain, Connecticut is $657 per month, or 53 percent of monthly income for a family with $15,000 in income.
  • Family child care homes in Hartford, Connecticut charge an average of $414 per month for preschool children and $456 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 33 percent of its monthly income on care for a preschool child or 37 percent for an infant. A family in New Britain, Connecticut with the same annual income using average-priced care would spend 41 percent of its monthly income ($508 per month) for preschool care or 43 percent ($531 per month) for an infant in a family child care home.
  • 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 income and family size. By law, families in Connecticut are required to make only one co-payment regardless of the number of children they have in care.
    • For example, a family of three with $15,000 in income and one preschooler or infant in average-priced care in Connecticut would be charged a monthly co-payment of $50, or 4 percent of monthly income, as shown in Figure 2. If this family of three had two preschoolers in average-priced care, its monthly co-payment would also be $50.
    • In Connecticut, families receiving cash welfare assistance are not required to make co-payments.
Figure 2. Child Care Prices and Co-Payments for Hypothetical Connecticut Families 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)
FAMILY LIVING IN HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT
INFANT (1 year)
Center-based $618 49.5% $50 4.0%
Family child care home $456 36.5% $50 4.0%
PRESCHOOLER (4 years)
Center-based $481 38.4% $50 4.0%
Family child care home $414 33.1% $50 4.0%
FAMILY LIVING IN NEW BRITAIN, CONNECTICUT
INFANT (1 year)
Center-based $657 52.6% $50 4.0%
Family child care home $531 42.5% $50 4.0%
PRESCHOOLER (4 years)
Center-based $480 38.4% $50 4.0%
Family child care home $508 40.6% $50 4.0%

* State policy does not prevent providers from charging parents additional amounts, above the co-payment, if the providers' rates exceed the state reimbursement level. Figures in this table represent the minimum co-payment.

Source: Data collected by the Urban Institute from United Way Connecticut/Child Care Infoline, a child care resource and referral agency serving Connecticut, summer 1999.

  • State policy does not prevent providers from charging parents additional amounts, above the co-payment, if the providers’ rates exceed the state reimbursement level. For example, the maximum CCDF rate for a preschooler in a family child care home in New Britain, Connecticut is $433 per month, which is $75 less than the $508 average price shown in Figure 2. If the $75 differential is paid by the family, the total cost to the family is $125 per month, more than twice the official co-payment of $50 shown in Figure 2. If the fee is not charged to the family, the provider loses $75 per month for providing service to a subsidized child. The differential could be much larger than $75 for some child care setting, including accredited centers and other settings with higher than average rates, and for families with more than one child in care.