Parents faced drastically higher childcare costs in pandemic, survey finds

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The cost of childcare got higher during the pandemic, according to a new survey, forcing many parents to reconsider their job plans.

More than 7 in 10 parents report that child care is more expensive now because of the pandemic, according to a recent survey from Care.com of 3,000 parents paying for child care.

The average cost for one child in 2020 was $612 a week for a nanny, up 8% over the year before; $340 a week for a day care center, up 87%; and $300 a week for a family care center, up 69%.

Read more: Here are the financial considerations of becoming a stay-at-home parent

“With the rising cost of care, many [parents] are reducing hours at work, changing jobs or leaving the workforce entirely,” Carrie Cronkey, Care.com’s chief marketing officer, told Yahoo Money, pointing to the survey findings. “And this, I think, unfortunately leads back to that statistic where you see 3 million women leaving the workforce.”

(Credit: Care.com)
(Credit: Care.com)

Childcare is considered affordable when it costs families no more than 7% of a household’s income, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But 85% of parents reported they are spending 10% or more of their income on care. That’s up from 72% last year who said the same thing.

“Despite the increased operating costs of providing childcare throughout the pandemic, we’ve done our best to ensure all families are able to access quality care at a reasonable cost and not to pass those costs on to our families,” said a spokesperson for KinderCare, a nationwide childcare center company with more than 1,500 locations, when asked about rising prices.

Not only is affordability an issue, but access to childcare facilities has become increasingly hard during the pandemic.

More childcare options pick back up, as shown by this day care drop-off during the phase 4 reopening in Queens, New York. (Photo by: Lindsey Nicholson/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
More childcare options pick back up, as shown by this day care drop-off during the phase 4 reopening in Queens, New York. (Photo by: Lindsey Nicholson/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Almost half of families surveyed said it is harder to find childcare now than it was before the pandemic. Families living in small towns or rural areas were twice as likely to say that finding a childcare provider was very difficult, compared with those in suburban and urban areas.

Read more: Here's what's in Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion 'rescue plan' that could help your wallet

“We’re seeing an increased demand in the number of families who are looking for care, and we’re doing our best to open up more classrooms in our centers by hiring a record number of teachers,” the KinderCare spokesperson told Yahoo Money.

Cronkey recommends taking advantage of the childcare assistance programs and government aid that is in place. The American Rescue Plan bumps the Child Tax Credit to $3,000 for each child between 6 and 17 years old and to $3,600 for each child under age 6. The credit is available to households making less than $150,000 and half of it can be received in monthly payments, which started on July 15 and ends in December.

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Marissa is a reporter for Yahoo Money and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @MarissaLGamache.

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