Maryland infant care costs rank 7th in nation
SALISBURY, Md. – According to a new study, Maryland ranks seventh highest in the nation when it comes to infant care costs.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable child care as costing no more than 7 percent of a family’s income. That means the average Maryland family should only be paying about $6,000 a year. But researchers say the annual cost to care for just one infant is more than $15,000.
“If you can’t afford to send your kids to daycare, so you can have a full time job, there’s an issue there,” says Bree Barber, a Maryland resident and parent of four kids. “We spend a lot of money on daycare.”
The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) says on average it costs about $1,300 dollars per month to pay for infant care in Maryland.
“It makes sense. I was not surprised. It sounds about right,” says Leslie Sinclair, the director of the Lower Shore Child Care Resource Center.
Experts and parents alike tell 47 ABC the high cost has a big influence on how people grow their families.
“A reason we didn’t have another child was because of daycare. That was one of the reasons because we knew we weren’t going to be able to afford it. It’s pretty sad,” says Barber.
Parents and experts tell 47 ABC that high cost has major implications. In some cases, it even forces families to choose between working or staying home to take care of their kids.
“I see people making decisions about whether to grow their family or not based on child care and that is just sad,” says Sinclair.
Experts say Eastern Shore families feel this expense even more because of the availability of jobs here.
“The job opportunities are not necessarily high paying job opportunities. The families who are having most difficulty are the ones in jobs where they are paid hourly,” says Sinclair.
However, Sinclair says there is some progress being made, “Most recently there was an increase in subsidy which helped a lot of families.”
But parents tell 47 ABC that more needs to be done to help working families. “I think it should be regulated just like everything else,” says Barber.
Experts say child care is so expensive because of caregiver to child ratio regulations as well as the price it costs to train and license workers. They also tell 47 ABC that a common misconception is that child care workers are reaping all the benefits because of the high cost. According to this study, child care workers’ families are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as other workers’ families.
As for Delaware, the study finds that the average annual cost of infant care is about $11,000. Virginia stands at about $14,000 10th most expensive in the nation.