Virginia parents pay more for infant child care than for public college tuition

A recent study released by Child Care Aware of America found that child care is unaffordable in all 50 states, and that the DC region pays the most for full-time child care in the nation.

assortment of children's learning toys
Photo by Vanessa Bucceri

First, let’s state the obvious: Child care is expensive. The not so obvious? In America, child care is unaffordable in all 50 states and in DC, according to Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA), an organization that aims to provide every family access to high-quality, affordable child care across the nation.

In its 13th annual, recently released study, “The U.S. and The High Price of Child Care: An Examination of a Broken System,” CCAoA found that across all states, the price of center-based care exceeds 27% of median household income for single working parents, especially families of color, and in the state of Virginia, the annual price of center-based infant care is $14,560, which is 13.7% of the median income.

Specifically for DC, the average annual price of full-time, center-based child care in 2018 was $24,081 for an infant, $23,017 for a toddler and $18,980 for a 4-year-old. Median income for a single-parent family is $25,670, meaning the annual care of an infant in a center is 93.8% of the median income. For a married-couple family, median income is $173,340 and infant care in a center is 13.9% of this median income.

But the study also found that families living in the suburbs, including in Northern Virginia, are paying similar child care prices to those living in DC.

3 local families share their real-life finances with us

Compared to the average annual cost of tuition and fees at a Virginia public, four-year college or university ($13,490), child care annually costs 7.93% more than college tuition.

Broken down even further, single parents in Virginia pay 48.2% of their income for center-based infant child care, and the annual price of center-based child care for two children costs a married couple living at or below the federal poverty line over 100% of their annual household income. 

To see the full study, as well as more in-depth details on the methodology and findings, click here.

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