For working parents, child care is a cost they often can’t avoid—and it’s an expensive one.
The cost of child care for two children is more than housing costs for homeowners with a mortgage in 35 states, according to a 2017 report by Child Care Aware of America. Massachusetts was the least affordable state for infant care in a daycare center, at an annual average cost of $20,125.
If you can’t afford to be a stay-at-home parent, here are four options for making child care less expensive:
In-Home Daycare Centers
Daycare centers are the most popular and the most expensive, mainly because they provide daylong care. A drawback for some parents is that they have a number of children at a center and don’t provide one-on-one care.
Infant care in a daycare center cost $10,926 annually in the United States in 2016. A more affordable option is an in-home daycare center at a provider’s home, which averaged $7,961 for infants in 2016. Annual costs for toddlers was $9,562 at daycare centers and fell to $7,398 at in-home daycare centers.
If you only need sporadic care, a babysitter who can come to your home can be inexpensive, depending on how often you need them.
The national average pay is $13.44 per hour. The average hourly babysitting rate is higher in cities with a high cost of living, according to a study by care.com. The rate was $16.65 in San Francisco, and babysitters in all 75 cities examined earned more than $11 an hour.
Meeting other parents at your child’s school or through playdates is a good way to learn how they save on child care. For example, you may find out that they’re available to take care of your child a few hours a day and are affordable. Or they may know a good and inexpensive nanny, babysitter or daycare center.
Your local Boys and Girls Club, YMCA and other organizations may offer a safe and fun place for your children to play during the day. The fees can be low, such as $90 a week.
These may not work for toddlers, but for children who don’t have a parent at home after school, they can be a place for them to hang out until their parents pick them up after work.