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Spend money to make money [May. 15th, 2014|10:14 am]

Did you know that childcare is really expensive? Some of you don’t have kids, and some of you plan to never have kids, in which case, you’ll never know this personally. And this post may not be for you.

Still here? Yeah, so child care is really expensive. As of a 2008 study [1] it was the largest expense on average for middle class families, eclipsing both food and housing. As of a 2013 study [2], it often exceeds the cost of tuition at a state school. As you’ll read later, I had reason to gather facts and figures on this.

In Massachusetts, the average cost of childcare is $16,000 a year. That makes us if not the most expensive state, the second most expensive. Depends on the source and timing of the data. That’s the average cost. Quality care at an accredited center, will, of course, cost more. And centers in the more affluent and higher cost of living eastern part of the state will skew above average as well.

But we are lucky. I work at a college that has a very high quality, fully accredited program that has been established for 30 years and gives about a 33% staff discount. Meaning we have been able to enroll our toddler in a top tier program for a little less than it would have cost at the not-nationally-accredited KinderCare facility that he was in when he was too young to be enrolled at Regis. (Both are still above that average figure cited above but not by much. Those geographical factors.) And obviously it is convenient, because what could be more convenient than driving where you are going anyhow? And there is a safe and spacious campus around it, so the children can go on long(er) walks to the athletic fields or the gym, or to the science department to do exploratory and educational play, etc. His previous KinderCare we referred to as day care, and the Regis center we refer to as school. That kind of difference.

That whole paragraph will soon need to be rewritten to be past tense. At the end of April we received a letter informing us that because the center has had declining enrollments and has been running at increasing deficits, the program is being terminated at the end of June and will not reopen. This was a complete shock to us and the other parents. Many of us had already signed contracts for next year. And many of the almost comparable nearby facilities have already filled up for the next year. And it was a bombshell to the teachers at the center, who will also have a hard time getting new jobs because the nearby centers have already planned out their staffing for the next year.

We’re ‘lucky’. His previous facility has openings, so we have someplace for the Jägermonster. And as good as the people there are, and as clean and pleasant as the facility is, it is very hard to return to average when you’ve had excellent and were expecting excellent as an option. But the other excellent options either don’t have full day options, are way out of our price range, don’t have openings, or some combination of the three.

The parents of the children did rally and have a meeting with the President and CFO, but I don’t know as anything will come of it.

So this is one more thing that has been adding to our mental and financial stress.

[1] http://www.pewstates.org/uploadedFiles/PCS_Assets/2008/PEW_PkN_pre-kpinch_Nov2008_report.pdf

[2] http://usa.childcareaware.org/sites/default/files/Cost%20of%20Care%202013%20110613.pdf

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.


[User Picture]From: rufinia
2014-05-15 02:37 pm (UTC)
Holy SHIT. That SUCKS.
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2014-05-15 02:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah. It's part of the reason why Amanda's post ended with 'when it rains it pours'. And there's more, but it is her turn to post...
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[User Picture]From: meranthi
2014-05-15 04:11 pm (UTC)
FUCK! Seriously, child care is a major racket where the teachers still get paid crap and you have to choose between working and getting almost nothing take home, or staying home all day.
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2014-05-15 04:23 pm (UTC)
Indeed. As we get ever closer to that break-even point, recent data has shown a return to single-working-parent households. Not because one income can support a family as it did before, but because if you're going to be spending all of one person's post-tax income on full time child care, might as well not have the money and have more time at home with the child(ren). We're -fiscally- unable to have a second at this time, and may have to wait until J is in public school.
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[User Picture]From: meranthi
2014-05-15 04:26 pm (UTC)
Yeah, we had the same problem. Boston Public offers 4 y.o. kindergarten which was a godsend. We couldn't afford for T to stay home, but we could only barely afford having him work. Ugh.
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2014-05-19 05:29 pm (UTC)
Erm... not really an option. We're one of the few families that has the full day option. Most of the parents pick up their kids at lunchtime, or midafternoon. Some of them have the nannies they've hired to pick the kids up.

There are some pretty tight restrictions and regulations on child care in the state (one of the reasons why it is so expensive in general here), so the center based care is actually the cheaper route in almost every case. Paying the salary and benefits and taxes of a fully licensed caregiver, even shared, is more expensive, unless you bend/break the laws by going with an unlicensed provider or exceeding the caregiver to child ratios.
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