RELEASE: Investing in Child Care Would Benefit Low-Income Families, Women, and People of Color Most

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released a new report looking at how investments in infant-toddler child care programs would benefit different families. The analysis uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation to examine which families are using licensed child care providers to meet their child care needs as well as how childbirth affects parents’ earnings, credit card debt, and housing costs. Key findings from the report include:

  • Families with an infant or toddler spend about 50 percent more on child care than families with a preschooler.
  • If their child care expenses were capped at 7 percent of household income, low-income families paying for infant or toddler care would save, on average, nearly $450 per month—more than $5,000 per year.
  • High-income families access licensed child care at nearly four times the rate of low-income families.
  • Latinx families access licensed child care at a rate (16 percent) that is less than half that of white families (36 percent).
  • Parents’ incomes decrease by about 10 percent before and after childbirth.
  • Parents’ credit card debt surges during the time periods before and after childbirth. Additionally, average rent or mortgage payments increase about 15 percent in the first year after childbirth.
  • Black families’ overall household debt increases at tremendous rates after the birth of a child, despite that black mothers’ labor force participation and income increase during the same time.

“This analysis shows that at the same time that families are faced with the large expense of child care for infants and toddlers, they’re often weathering the significant financial headwinds that follow the birth of a child,” said Rasheed Malik, senior policy analyst for Early Childhood Policy at CAP. “Capping families’ child care expenses at an affordable rate and enacting paid family and medical leave would narrow racial disparities in access to licensed child care and save middle-class families thousands of dollars per year.”

Click here to read “Investing in Infant and Toddler Child Care to Strengthen Working Families” by Rasheed Malik.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at or 202-741-6292.