This week American parents are learning firsthand why many European countries offer childcare directly rather than reimbursing parents individually for it: The costs of childcare vary enormously by region.
The country’s reasonable attempt at financially supporting parents debuts on Thursday, July 15, via the Child Tax Credit, which pays families up to $300 per month per child. It’s billed as a way to “help defray the costs of childcare”, among other costs.
How far will those payments go toward childcare? Here are the average monthly childcare costs for four-year olds nationwide, according to the Economic Policy Institute:
- California: $956
- Texas: $589
- New York: $1,030
- Wisconsin: $850
- Massachusetts: $1,258
- Washington D.C.: $1,593
- Arkansas: $457
- Florida: $607
- Oregon: $838
In Washington, D.C., home of America’s most expensive daycare, the max child tax credit covers just 3.7 days of monthly childcare; in Texas, it covers 10 days per month; in Arkansas, it covers 13 days—possibly enough for a parent to snag a part-time gig. Parents in California and New York can cover approximately 6 days of childcare.
Baby care and toddler care, of course, costs $250-400 more per month, assuming that parents can find open spots for their kids at any ages: 27% of parents have difficulty finding available openings, and two-thirds of parents say they have one or very few options. In other words, parents are paying a fortune for care they wouldn’t necessarily choose, which leads to one of the most stressful scenarios in parenting: a kid unhappily struggling at a school or daycare, with no alternate options. Cue parental nausea.
The Biden administration expects the Child Tax Credit to cut child poverty in half; hopefully subsidized childcare is next.