Wisdom Wednesday

Daycare costs how much?!?

If you’re a working mom in Connecticut, one thing you are well aware of is the high cost of childcare. According to the stats at 2-1-1- Info, the average price for center care is nearly $13K per year…and that’s middle of the road. Holy smokes.

I’ve been a “graduate student mommy” for the past 2.5 years, and I was fortunate enough to have my mother and my husband care for the boys while I was in class, thus avoiding paying someone else for childcare in addition to paying my own tuition. Having finished graduate school this spring, I’m now job hunting. As an elementary school teacher, I’m not expecting to make a huge salary. I’ve been looking into my options, and with two kids in care full time, I will likely need to spend almost 30K per year on childcare. Adjust for gas and taxes…and there goes my salary!

I came across this article on CNN.com entitled “Moms: I Can’t Afford To Work” which told me I’m not alone. In my case, I’m finding that I will actually bring home more money if I work part-time. Counterintuitive? Yes. But if I can patch together free childcare by splitting kid-duty between my husband and myself and having family members fill in the cracks, I will take home more money than if I taught full time and paid for daycare. I’ve found some lower cost options for childcare in my area, but frankly I was unimpressed with them and wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving the boys there. So after working hard for 2.5 years in grad school…I’m looking for a part-time job. Sigh.

I enjoy the time I am spending with the boys, and I know I will one day look back on these days and miss them, but at the same time, I’m discouraged by this state of childcare costs, especially in Connecticut where the cost of living is so high. I certainly don’t think moms have to be the ones to stay home or work fewer hours- I know several Dads in this boat, too!  But in our family, having me work part time is the logical financial option. Kids really are expensive…sheesh!

8 thoughts on “Wisdom Wednesday

  1. I know right now if we both worked one salary would go completely to daycare – I am so glad my husband is staying home to watch our son – wish it was me – but right now it will do.

    I can imagine your frustration going to Grad school to work part time… I wish I realllly thought of all this stuff before I moved up here to CT.

  2. The day Miles went to Kindergarten my husband and I did the happy dance! Only one daycare tuition! Woohoo! But we still have to shell out some money for after school care for him. Financially, we both have to work, but we make enought that the cost of day care is still better for us than one of us staying home. We are fortunate that we have a really good YMCA in the area that is pretty reasonably priced. When I walked in the first day and saw babies toddling over to the teachers for random hugs and snuggles, I knew it was the right place. You can’t fake that, babies don’t lie! Hopefully you will find the right fit for you and it may be when your oldest goes to school full time and the costs seem a little less daunting. Good luck and congrats- we can always use some great new teachers!!!!

  3. We had personal experience with “you get what you pay for” while choosing care for Olivia locally. While I completely agree that affordable QUALITY childcare (especially at a center) is pretty non-existent, if I’m going to spend the money, it should be on my kids, right? I wish our jobs could pay us more!! I’m in the same boat in that working full time or part time, I bring home essentially the same amount of money because working more/making more = paying more for care.

    I love our center and am completely confident in the care my girls receive there, but MAN, it’s more than (a single) UConn tuition. Wow, right?!

  4. Totally agree, when we started looking I was hearing horror stories from people about how one place they tried just let their child cry all day and didn’t pick them up, others just placed them infront of a TV all day, etc. It made me scared to death, but realized the importants of checking everything out.
    I can imagine it is hard for those that do have to chose a cheaper one just to aford it.
    I know the state has been looking into the cost of childcare, not exactly sure what they are trying to do, but do say it is too high (one of the highest in country). I do think there can be some regulation, but also don’t want to have to cut down to much if places are then not able to get well qualified teachers and good supplies.

  5. I was shocked how much daycare cost when we began looking before my daughter was born. I knew both my husband and I had to work (of course at the time didn’t know I would be laid off shortly after returnign from maternity leave). We looked at centers and homecare in all different prices ranges and as The Amazing Races said, you can really see why some place do cost more. The quality of care, teachers, supplies, etc shows. We knew right away we didn’t want a homecare daycare once we saw the large facilities, but we also knew we didn’t want a corporate run one (won’t drop any names but I am sure you all have heard of many of them in the state). We felt most comfortable at a facility in our town (they only have 2 in the state). The convience of it being right in our town, the age range (6 weeks – kindegarden then before and after school care till 11 and summer came), and just seeing how friendly, clean, happy the kids were, and the level of care and eduactaion she would be getting the cost didn’t mean anythign anymore. Plus the fact that they discount at 2 kids not 3 like many places we looked at was a plus as well, know it wouldn’t double with 2 kids, and they also discount once they are out of diapers.
    And now seeing how happy she is every day to go and when I pick her up, we knew we made the right choice.
    Yes, if the care is more then you are making there is no choice for many and I have heard that many people do find not working or workign part time a way to actually make more money when you have to factor in childcare.
    One thing people can look into, we found that many centers we looked at did have a set price but some also based it on your salary. I know we wouldn’t qualify for any discount but depening on your salary you may.

    1. Yes, I agree about the nicer centers costing more. What really stresses me out, though, is what it must be like to have to chose a cheaper, lower quality center just to afford it. Unfortunately, in my corner of the state, there aren’t that many options. I’d only be ok with home care if it was someone I knew or if I got a recommendation from someone I knew. The whole childcare situation is really stressful!

  6. Thanks for posting Sarah. This is good info. As someone who works in the child care industry (I don’t work in a center), I do want to urge people to think about why costs are so high for high-quality child care. The company I work for has higher than average teacher salaries…which are still low in the grand scheme of livable wages. Higher salaries means attracting more educated teachers and lower turnover rate. These two things are really important to me as a parent. Also, centers are able to provide higher quality materials, snacks and continuing education for their teachers…as well as benefits like health care and tuition reimbursement which is not standard across the board in the child care industry. What’s unfortunate is that there is not a way to make this high quality care affordable to everyone who wants it. Good luck with your job search and congratulations on graduating.

    1. I 100% understand. Seeing the salary that some childcare workers make for caring for your kids, the most important part of your life, is kind of scary. I’m willing to pay more for high quality facilities and better staff. Definitely not an area where I’m willing to bargain shop! I’m just frustrated that after paying for a master’s, I still can’t afford to work full time and know that my kids are in quality child care without totally negating my working in the first place. I found a wonderful option for when Joshua turns 2 in a year…but this year…looks like I’ll be cobbling something together care-wise…

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