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Expert: Parents need to demand change to reduce childcare costs

Posted October 3

— It’s no secret that child care is incredibly expensive.

According to the Census Bureau, childcare costs have shot up nearly 50 percent in North Carolina since 1985. These days, North Carolina parents are spending more on childcare than they are on rent -- and regulators say that isn't right.

"Oh, it's true," said Priscilla Lyman, a local mom of two. "Childcare was going to cost me over $400 a week for two kids. So, when you average that out, it’s $1,600 a month in tuition fees for day care.”

Lyman said she hates doing the math, because she quickly realized that day care would crush her budget.

“I don’t make $1,600 a month," she said. "So, how am I supposed to meet those needs? I can’t.”

According to data from non-partisan think tank New America, on average, North Carolina moms and dads are spending more than one-third of their income on child care. That’s more than three times the amount recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The tuition is equivalent to some college tuition, and we need to take that seriously," said Kimberly Shaw, president of A Safe Place child care enrichment center.

Shaw has run a five-star child care facility for 20 years, and she says one reason for the high cost is the curriculum these days.

“Don’t diminish that we are building brains," said Shaw. "We have a curriculum that we implement. We make sure that children have outdoor time and stimulation that covers all their learning domains. So, cognitively, this is a great place to be.”

Pros talk childcare costs

Even so, many parents want the state and federal government to help out.

“What do they expect the parent to do? How do you make that happen? You can’t," said Lyman. "It’s not possible.”

When it comes to child care, parents aren't just frustrated with affordability, but also accessibility. Moms and dads are spending longer than a year on child care program wait lists.

"I was on that waiting list for over a year before either one of my children were considered," Lyman said.

Child policy advocates, who have been monitoring the issue of child care in North Carolina for more than a decade, said they are mobilizing an effort to create more affordable child care, but they say they need the help of parents to do it.

"Not only is this a question about affordability for families, it's a question about opportunities for children," said Matt Gross, policy director for NC Child.

To defer day care costs, Gross said parents have to be willing to speak up and demand more public investment and funding for early childhood education from lawmakers.

"They need to be hearing from all the parents in the community as to why this needs to be a priority."

Gross believes that, if parents band together and demand a change, more parents will be able to find quality child care without having to jump over hurdles.

In the meantime, experts say parents can save on child care by checking to see if they qualify for the federal government's tax refund program, sharing babysitters with neighbors and friends to split the costs and asking about workplace benefits regarding child care.

17 Comments

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  • Stacey Myrick Oct 3, 10:33 p.m.
    user avatar

    The cost of quality child care in some areas are higher because of the area I think they may live in because Halifax County doesn't have a high paying Child Care payment for parents at least I don't think so concerning what other counties pay. The more education and the higher the quality of the Child Care plays a big part of what you pay as well. Some parents do get help from government insistence and just have to pay the parent fee which is half. It's all base on their work income salary.

  • Orisia Davis Oct 3, 9:45 p.m.
    user avatar

    In my opinion the cost of quality child care in some areas are extreme, but at the same time you want your child to have the best quality of care you can receive. I understand that it costs to educate the teachers to provide the care and it is definitely needed when it comes to early childhood teachers. So in my opinion i believe the federal government should step in and help parents with paying for childcare no matter how much money you make.The earlier we begin to educate our young children the better the outcome as they grow older.

  • Rick Kissiah Oct 3, 9:24 p.m.
    user avatar

    This is news? WRAL assembled experts to determine that childcare is expensive? What a fine piece of investigative journalism! This is the same thing as fast food workers demanding $15 an hour. You don't have $15 an hour skills, so either accept that or train for an actual career. In the same vein it is irresponsible to have children without a plan to take care of them. Demanding change? Let's demand responsibility from parents.

  • Paul Shields Oct 3, 8:39 p.m.
    user avatar

    I do not care for mean people easy to say can not afford do not have, We have 2 and expecting our 3rd, I can not afford it but will work my tail off at under 10 an hour and make do somehow, I wish the min wage went up some not to15 just some some folks work hard and are under paid, some folks phone it in so to speak and say they are tired that frustrates me to no end, I avoid those folks, But ya 10 an hour min wage would be so helpful to all.....

  • Norman Lewis Oct 3, 8:12 p.m.
    user avatar

    Don't have children you can't afford to pay for. That childcare is expensive is no secret. Acting surprised and complaining about the cost is ridiculous. Whining about trying to get government "help" is being deceptive. You are trying to get other people to pay for the child you created. The Government has NO MONEY of its own. Their money comes from taxes from other people not some magic box that dispenses cash. Don't have a child if you/ your spouse plan on continuing to work full time or if you are single/unmarried. Becoming single after having a child is a different issue.

  • Karen Hahn Oct 3, 5:58 p.m.
    user avatar

    Raising kids is expensive but it's a choice to have them. Life is full of choices and consequences of those.

  • Nathaniel Hopkins Oct 3, 4:01 p.m.
    user avatar

    the daycare providers are charging what the market will bear. why does Disney now charge $120 to get into the park? because they can and enough people are willing to pay it. Calling a price ridiculous because the price is high is in itself ridiculous. Supply and Demand folks!

  • Lynn Wilhelm Oct 3, 3:30 p.m.
    user avatar

    The problem is that we need to pay childcare providers at least a living wage. We need great facilities where children are safe and nurtured. Starting a child with good care is valuable for all of us in the US.
    Childcare should be subsidized to make sure these things are covered for everyone.
    If keeping one parent home during these years is more valuable, we need to ensure that parents who do this don't lose out on future earnings when they drop out of the work force. There's value in child care no matter who does it.

  • Wendelin Charlie Oct 3, 3:28 p.m.
    user avatar

    Research shows that families that have that provide enrichment and nurturing to their children, the children are worse off in daycare. Nurturing is subtle and is central and the way emotional fortification is fed to a person. Babies need more nurturing than teaching but the overlap muddles this issue.

  • Nancy Horne Oct 3, 3:07 p.m.
    user avatar

    I paid $320 a week in the 90s for two. Even as a single parent I never thought some one else should pay for it. Plus you do get a childcare tax deduction for part of it. If you are married and both work, and you make less than you pay out for daycare maybe you should consider staying home with your kids.

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