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RELEASE: CAP Report Analyzes Costs of Child Care for Infants and Toddlers, Need for Increased Public Support

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released a new analysis of the costs of providing child care for infants and toddlers and the need for increased public investment to ensure that families can afford child care and providers can offer living wages to teachers and improve the quality of care provided.

“The high cost of child care is out of reach for most working families,” said Simon Workman, associate director of Early Childhood Policy at CAP and co-author of the report. “Current levels of public investment are insufficient to close the gap between what parents can afford to pay and the true cost of a quality program.”

The report finds that in the long term, this problem of high costs can only be solved with a significant increase in public investment in early childhood education, particularly for infants and toddlers. This includes subsidy policies that support infants and toddlers and supports to ensure that home-based care can be a financially sustainable business.

Key findings include:

  • The average cost to provide center-based licensed child care for an infant in the United States is $1,230 per month. In a family child care home, the average cost is $800 per month.
  • In no state does the cost of center-based infant or toddler child care meet the federal definition of affordable.
  • In 12 states, the true cost of child care for just one infant exceeds 20 percent of the state median income.
  • Child care subsidies—which are intended to help working families access child care—only cover the average cost of care for an infant in three states.
  • On average, a family making the state median income would have to spend 18 percent of their income to cover the cost of child care for an infant and 13 percent for a toddler. Accessing child care that meets high-quality standards would take up an even greater share of family income, making it far out of reach for most working families.

Read the report: “Understanding the True Cost of Child Care for Infants and Toddlers” by Simon Workman and Steven Jessen-Howard.

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Colin Seeberger at or 202-478-6327.