One of the biggest things that a lot of parents struggle with is finding daycare for their young children. Daycare is not only expensive, it can be very hard to find, and the pandemic made things even more difficult. Parents were pulling their children out of daycare for varying reasons, and a number of daycares shut down or laid off employees, making it even harder to find childcare. Our family found what we thought was a good daycare, but recently discovered we needed to switch my son’s care location, which has meant rising daycare costs in our budget.
How to find a daycare
We found our original daycare using a website that collected information from both in-home daycares and daycare facilities. In most areas, in-home daycares are less expensive, but also less school-like. I initially thought I wanted a school like setting for my child, but realized that as an infant, he didn’t necessarily need that kind of setting. More importantly, none of the daycare facilities in our area were accepting children.
Definitely do your research on your daycare. Most states require daycares to be licensed, even in-home providers. Find out the status of your daycare’s license. Look into their inspection records. Make sure this is a safe place for your child. Our daycare provider ended up losing her license for violations that we were completely unaware of. Thankfully, our child was never unsafe, and I don’t know that anything I could have done would have revealed this to me earlier, but I wish I had done even more research.
To find our second daycare, I reached out on a local moms and parents Facebook group. This was a great way to find daycares – people who were happy with their current care reached out to share their locations and if they had space available. Of course, I also still needed to do my due diligence, but I hadn’t thought to join a group like this prior to giving birth, and I definitely missed out on information.
What does a daycare provide?
What every daycare provides differs wildly. I have friends who don’t need to send anything with their kids except spare clothing. All food, diapers, wipes, even formula is provided. At other daycares, nothing is provided and you have to send everything.
We’re sort of in the middle, and I think our situation isn’t uncommon. Our daycare provides lunch and two snacks; we send diapers and wipes and that sort of thing.
We get daily reports of what he did that day, what he ate, and how he slept. We don’t get regular photos, nor do we have a video stream we can watch, which some daycares do provide. Honestly, while I’d love pictures, I don’t find that I miss them. I’m glad to know that his caregivers are spending their time interacting with him and not taking pictures of him.
What are the rising costs of daycare?
Going from an in-home daycare to a daycare facility, we definitely faced rising costs of daycare. Our monthly expense for daycare more than doubled.
The average cost of daycare in the US is $850 a month, but that’s very location specific. In our area, the average is over $2000 a month. And with everything, costs are not decreasing. Daycare providers are facing more expenses, and those expenses get passed on to the parents. As I often point out, I also want my child’s providers to be paid a good wage – and that means that I spend more money.
It’s certainly worth it to me to spend on my child’s daycare, but we’ve had to make some significant sacrifices with this rising cost in our budget. As he gets older, the cost will actually decrease – care for children under 2 is the most expensive, and it gets less expensive as kids grow up (in most places anyway). And of course, once he goes to school, the expenses all change again.
He is worth it – but daycare is expensive and if you’re considering having a child, make sure you look into this to make sure you have room in the budget.
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Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.