RELEASE: As the Senate Fails To Act, the Cost of Child Care Is Up 47 Percent During COVID-19

Washington, D.C. — Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Child Care Is Essential Act, a $50 billion rescue package for child care with bipartisan support. In light of the U.S. Senate’s failure to pass this legislation and shore up the child care sector, the Center for American Progress released a new issue brief and an accompanying interactive calculator that reveals how the cost of child care has changed as a result of COVID-19 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The analysis comes on the heels of previous CAP studies showing that the pandemic is keeping parents—primarily mothers—out of the workforce and risks permanently closing nearly half of the nation’s child care supply.

The analysis and calculator look at how various factors—such as state emergency child care licensing requirements, greater personnel expenses, fluctuations in enrollment, enhanced safety precautions, and the purchase of personal protective equipment, among other expenses—are driving up the cost of infant, toddler, pre-k, and home-based child care. Given the rapidly changing guidance from states, the calculator also enables users to adjust some of the underlying variables as states update their requirements.

The new analysis finds that the cost of center-based child care that meets enhanced health and safety requirements is, on average, 47 percent higher than the cost of meeting pre-pandemic requirements. Additionally, for families who rely on home-based family child care, the analysis finds that the cost is 70 percent higher than it was before the pandemic. Cost increases are even higher for programs providing child care for 3- and 4-year-olds, who see an average increase of 54 percent and 59 percent, respectively, compared with 29 percent for infant care.

“To keep costs down for families, providers were operating on thin margins prior to COVID-19,” said Simon Workman, director of Early Childhood Policy at CAP. “This brief and calculator show that the safety guidelines and expenses necessary to protect physical health put providers’ and parents’ financial health in even greater peril. Without significant federal support, the pandemic threatens to foreclose on the nation’s already insufficient child care supply—particularly in low-income communities. It’s past time for the Senate to act.”

Please click here to read “The True Cost of Providing Safe Child Care During the Coronavirus Pandemic” by Simon Workman and Steven Jessen-Howard.

Please click here to use the interactive calculator.

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