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30 Child Care Statistics & Trends in the U.S.

Care is an essential factor in the child’s physical and emotional development, especially during the formative years. The environment in which the child is nurtured creates positive and negative predispositions in later adulthood. Therefore, we collected the most prominent data on the subject:

The Rising Cost of Child Care

  • The average annual cost to have two children in a child care center is about $18,000 (Americanprogress, 2016)  
  • The U.S. has the third-highest child care costs paid by families out of OECD countries (Americanprogress, 2016) 
  • Over the past 20 years, the cost of child care has almost doubled, while wages have remained stagnant (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020) 
  • The average annual cost of full-time care for an infant can range from $4,863 in Mississippi, $16,430 in Massachusetts (Singlemotherguide, 2016) 

Work & Family Balance

  • Only half of the respondents (48%) said they feel like their employer cares about their child care needs (Care, 2019) 
  • 26% of respondents reported switching from full-time to part-time jobs because of child care (Care, 2019) 
  • Only 7% of employers provide child care at work or near the workplace (SHRM, 2017) 
  • 61% of U.S. employers provided child care assistance to employees (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015) 
  • 2 million parents had to make career sacrifices due to not being able to find proper child care (Americanprogress, 2017) 

Enrollment in Child Care Centers

  • Around 8.74 million children are enrolled in kindergarten or nursery (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018) 
  • 3.53 million children are enrolled in public kindergartens in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018) 
  • The number of children enrolled in private kindergartens is around 37,900 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018) 
  • The number of children (64.7%) enrolled in full-time kindergarten or nursery has doubled in the last 40 years (U.S. Census Bureau, 2019) 
  • By 2021 it is estimated that there will be 856,238 daycare operators in the United States (Statista, 2019) 
  • In 2017, the largest for-profit child care organization was KinderCare Education, with the capacity of over 200,000 children (Statista, 2019) 

Program Vendors

Participation of Mothers in the Workforce

  • The cost of childcare resulted in a 13% drop in the employment of mothers with children under 5 (SWET, 2018) 
  • U.S. women’s labor participation ranks 17 out of 22 OECD countries, and one-third of the decline is because of child care (American Economic Review, 2013) 
  • The annual cost of infant care averaged over 40% of the state median income for a single mother (Singlemotherguide, 2016) 
  • 62% of mothers and 36% of fathers said that they had to quit or switch jobs because of child care (Washingtonpost, 2015) 

High-quality Care & Developmental Wellbeing

  • Less than 10% of child care programs nationally are considered high-quality (Americanprogress, 2016) 
  • Children who experienced higher quality care were more cooperative and compliant and less aggressive and disobedient (National Institutes of Health, 2006) 
  • Children in high-quality care scored better on tests of language, memory, and other skills, compared to children in lower-quality care and children of stay-at-home mothers (Wikipedia
  • Higher-quality care has low adult-to-child ratio, smaller group sizes, and the providers of child care have better education and training (National Institutes of Health, 2006) 
  • Children in smaller child care groups are less likely to contract upper respiratory and stomach illnesses (National Institutes of Health, 2006) 

The Financial Strain on Families

  • Families in the United States spend 25.6% of their family income on full-time child care (Statista, 2016) 
  • Families in the United States lose out on $20.6 billion in wages due to a lack of child care (Americanprogress, 2016)
  • 36% of parents reported that the cost of child care had caused relationship tension, and 39% say it has affected family planning (Care, 2019) 
  • 39% of parents said the high cost of care has made them wait longer to have children, or made them have fewer children (Care, 2019) 
  • 70% of parents said the cost of child care cost surprised them the most upon starting a family (Care, 2019) 
  • Three-quarters of parents say that child care is expensive in their area, and a little more than half say that it’s hard to find (WashingtonPost, 2015)