'They are making a lot of sacrifices.' Many parents struggling with rising child care costs

Posted at 1:53 PM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-26 18:25:12-04

(WXYZ) — If you are a parent or thinking of having your first bundle of joy, then you may be in for a hit to your wallet when it comes to child care. A new study reveals that childcare costs have jumped nearly 50% since the start of the pandemic.

And this has already impacted the lives of many parents, with some choosing to be a stay-at-home mom or dad, or now struggling with debt due to high childcare bills.

"When my husband and I looked at the option for me to return to work, just in regards to what I would make vs what I would be spending on child care, it made more sense for me to stay at home," said Kara Frizzell Chambo, mother of two boys.

Before the pandemic, Kara worked at a Michigan dental office.

Graph: Michigan League for Public Policy

According to Kara, child care costs in the Westland area have risen to about 10 to 15 dollars an hour. For her, that would mean paying $600 per week for her two kids —enough to put a strain on the budgets of most families.

"If I wasn’t bringing home what I had been previous to the pandemic, we would be definitely in debt," said Kara.

A recent survey by Penny Hoarder reveals that 40% of parents have gone into debt due to high child care costs. In fact, half the parents surveyed reported spending at least 25% of their income on child care.

One of the writers for the site, Robert Bruce, says this has increased a lot of stress and anxiety for both moms and dads.

"They are making a lot of sacrifices doing things they haven’t necessarily done before to help pay for these expenses," said Robert.

Data shows that 38% have taken a second job, 32% have sold their belongings, 28% borrowed money from family and friends, while 25% have gone ahead and given up their pets.

The situation has gotten to a point where family planning is also being questioned.

"That 63% said that child care has been a factor if they wanted to have another child," said Robert.

Robert says the problem has been building up especially between 1990 and 2018.

"The child care cost had went up by about 210% in that time frame. And during that same time frame, the median family income only went up by about 143%," he said.

And now the pandemic has exacerbated the situation.

Owner of LACC Child Care Academy Laurie Clark-Horton says teacher shortages to hiked up expenses all have played a role in rising child care cost.

"Cleaning products were expensive, food prices were raised and then teachers who went on unemployment did not return, and so a lot of the facilities had to use substitute teachers," said Laurie.

At this rate, the National Association for the Education of Young Children predicts that one-third of childcare centers across the country may close within the next year.

The solution, Laurie says, is the state needs to standardize the subsidies, which will mitigate most of the challenges.

"So we can get some consistency in our salaries on a permanent basis, the raises on a permanent basis," said Laurie.

Meanwhile, for parents, Robert suggests saving as early as possible. It will help tackle unexpected expenses and over time, may provide a cushion if you or your partner decides to be a stay-at-home parent.

For more tips, check out Penny Hoarder's 6 Ideas to Help Parents Save on Child Care.