The Average Cost of Things

The Average Cost of Daycare

Brandon Cornett

By Brandon Cornett
© 2011 All rights reserved

What is the average cost of daycare in the United States? How much are people paying, on average, for childcare services? How do I know if I'm spending too much?

These are all valid questions from parents, so we will do our best to answer them in this article. Below, you will find data and information relating to the average cost of daycare in this country.

We researched this through several different websites. Not surprisingly, they all gave slightly different figures. Compiling and averaging data from multiple sources, we came up with the following. The average cost of daycare in the United States is approximately $7,500 per year.

It's important to realize that prices range quite a bit, based on several factors (see list below). For example, a USA Today article from a couple of years ago reported that the average child care costs for one infant ranged from $3,803 to $13,480 per year. In most cases, the fees are higher for infants than for toddlers, because more care is required. Here are some other factors that influence the cost of care:

Variables in Daycare Cost

As with most things, the price of daycare will vary depending on where you live. But there are other factors that affect the cost of daycare services, including:

  • Type of Daycare - Not all childcare services are created equally. Some are simply babysitters, while others provide a variety of educational and recreational activities. Generally speaking, the more services a daycare facility provides, the higher the cost of the service.
  • Location - We touched on this above. The average cost of daycare in New York City may very well be twice the cost for similar services in Boise, Idaho. Location affects the cost of living in general, and childcare falls under that umbrella.
  • Duration of Care - This one probably comes as no surprise. Some daycare facilities charge a flat rate for monthly services, while others charge by the hour. This cost will go up or down based on the amount of care you need.
  • Popularity - Are you trying to get into the trendy new daycare center with the long waiting list, or a brand new one that nobody has heard of before? This will affect the cost. You'll pay more for popularity and brand names.

There are other factors that influence the average cost of daycare services, but the biggest factors are listed above.

Price Data from the NACCRRA

While researching this article, we reviewed some statistics on the website of the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA). Yes, it's a mouthful. They did not have any data compiled for 2009 yet, understandably, but they had some average cost info for 2008:

  • Massachusetts had the highest cost of childcare in all categories. On average, people in that state pay $15,895 annually for full-time infant care, and $11,678 for 4--year-old care. That comes out to roughly $1,324 and $973 per month, respectively.
  • Mississippi had the lowest average fees of any state in the U.S. The cost of infant daycare in that state averages around $4,560 annually, or $380 per month. Care for older children is slightly less than that.

References

We visited more than a dozen websites to compile this information. In most cases, we looked at the average costs reported by different sources. There was only one instance of a direct data quote, and that was from the NACCRRA report entitled "2008 Price of Child Care."

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