Child Care Spending is Now More Than 10% of Household Income for Majority of Families

Presidential Campaigns Side With Families And Highlight Child Care Costs As Hot Election Issue in 2016

Loading media player...’s 2016 Cost of Care Survey shows the financial, emotional and workplace impact of child care costs on families. #costofcare.

WALTHAM, Mass.--()--According to the 2016 Cost of Care Survey, 54% of families spend more than 10% of their annual household income on child care. In the last year, as housing costs have climbed to rival child care costs as top expenses, families are recognizing the need to budget for child care more than ever before. In fact, the third annual survey from (NYSE: CRCM,, the world’s largest online destination for finding and managing family care, found that today, 74% of families budget for child care.

“The cost of child care is one of the top three expenses for families, falling next to housing costs and far exceeding college education,” states Katie Bugbee, global parenting expert and senior managing editor of “Families have tended to budget and save for the other two items and now they’re budgeting for care, too – this is a change from the past. However, it’s clear from the Cost of Care Survey that many still face challenges staying within budget – finding that quality care, everyday essentials, unexpected extras and everything that comes along with parents wanting to provide the best for their children quickly add up.”


How Prepared Are Families for Child Care Costs?

Housing prices have risen in the past year and now rival the cost of child care, according to Child Care Aware. Families are increasingly feeling the pinch. That may be why approximately 3 out of 4 respondents (74%) are now budgeting for child care, an increase from 62% in 2015 and 58% in 2014.

Yet, despite this preparation, 66% of families surveyed are still surprised at the cost of child care, finding it costs more than they expected. The survey revealed significant challenges for families to stay on budget: 1 in 3 (33%) rarely or never are able to stay within their overall family budget and 49% of families claimed that their child care costs are rising. In fact, 40% say their cost of child care has increased by $1,000 or more per year and 15% saying it has increased by $5,000 or more per year. And while having more children can clearly impact what they spend, parents also attribute this increase to the rise in day care costs and added extracurricular activities.

Where is All the Money Going?

3 out of 5 families (60%) wonder “where is all the money going” when it comes to how much they spend on their children; furthermore, 21% think they spend $30,000 or more per year on each child for everything, while 71% simply don’t know.

In addition to basic care, everyday essentials and extra activities add up quickly. According to the survey, on an annual basis, approximately 1 in 3 families (34%) spend $1,000 or more on extracurricular activities; 34% spend $1,000 or more on clothing; 1 in 5 spend $2,000 or more on summer camp; and 44% spend between $500 and $1,999 on diapers alone. Technology may be contributing to the increased spending. The efficiency of shopping apps and e-commerce sites attracts time-crunched parents, with 52% of families reporting that they’re likely to spend more money due to the ease of technology.

Just How Costly Is Child Care?

The impact of child care costs varies across families but it is clearly being felt. About one-fifth (21%) have waited to have children due to the costs, which rises to 26% for millennials. And 1 in 4 have put themselves in debt or further debt to pay for child care. In fact, saving less money tops the list of things parents have done to pay for child care, followed by saving no money at all, and saving less for retirement. But don’t expect many regrets here – 80% of families surveyed feel their child care plan is worth the money.

What Extra Skills Or Qualities Are Families Willing To Pay For?

While 49% of families feel they spend too much on child care, they’re still willing to pay more for certain features. Topping child care center and school amenities for which families would pay more are variety in classes (e.g., yoga), video camera capabilities to check in on their child, and better technology for child care center/schools and families to communicate with one another. For in-home care, parents would be willing to pay more for nannies, babysitters and au pairs if they’re multilingual and can teach the children another language, are CPR/First Aid certified, and can cook organic meals and snacks for their child. Even technology ranks as a caregiver skill, with 29% saying they’d pay more per week if the caregiver could teach their children about technology.

Work Arounds: Working Families Are Coming Up With New Strategies to Pay For Care.

The impact of care costs is felt outside of the home too, with 2 out of 3 working parents (67%) stating that child care costs have influenced their careers, and that number climbs to 72% among millennials. Topping the list of ways in which parents are trying to balance cost of child care and work are asking for a flexible work schedule to save on child care, changing jobs to increase pay, and switching from full-time to part-time to save money. Additionally, 43% feel they have to work harder to make more money to cover child care and 34% worry about job security and the cost of care’s impact on their family’s financial future.

The need for employer support is real. An overwhelming majority of those employed (85%) stated that they wish their employer offered child care benefits, support that would seem to benefit parents and employers alike. Roughly 3 in 4 working parents (74%) state their job has been impacted when child care plans have fallen through, resulting in use of a sick day (78%), falling behind on work (37%) and even losing a day’s pay (28%).

“The fight for talent these days is fierce, and the reality is a majority of that talent has parenting duties in addition to their careers,” stated Michael Marty, SVP and GM of Care@Work,’s enterprise solution helping companies support their working families. “For a company to compete for and retain the best talent, which includes both moms and dads, modern companies must address parents’ needs with family care benefits as basic table stakes. And it’s important these benefits reflect the way today’s parents work, providing flexible, on-demand options to meet their child care needs when, how and where they want. In addition, companies can provide subsidized back up child care, flexible work arrangements, or something as simple as a working parents affinity group. It’s obvious from our survey that employees are struggling to balance care and work, and employers need to take note.”

Child Care Gets Political.

The presidential election is just around the corner and child care has been a hot topic. It’s clear the families who took the Cost of Care Survey are looking to the country to make changes in this area. When asked how child care costs makes them feel, half of families (50%) said they wish the U.S. would take a note from other countries and subsidize child care. And it doesn’t stop there; if they could, 16% would even move to a country that subsidizes child care.


Annual Child Care Costs: 54% of families spend more than 10% of their household income on child care; 1 in 5 (20%) spend a quarter of their income on child care. 30% spend $15,000 or more per year!

National Average Weekly Rates for the following:

National Hourly Rate for a Babysitter: $15.02

About the 2016 Cost of Care Survey

The Cost of Care Survey is an annual survey to measure the relative cost of care in the U.S. and how care impacts families’ budgets and employment. The 2016 Cost of Care Survey captured responses from nearly 900 parents in the United States during the months of May and June 2016. Respondents were recruited from

For more information about the survey, sources, a video about the survey findings, or to learn helpful tips on saving, visit

Employers can also find helpful tips on how to best support their working families at


Since launching in 2007, (NYSE: CRCM) has been committed to solving the complex care challenges that impact families, caregivers, employers, and care service companies. Today, is the world’s largest online destination for finding and managing family care, with 11.6 million families and 9.1 million caregivers* across 18 countries, including the U.S., UK, Canada and parts of Western Europe, and approximately 800,000 employees of corporate clients having access to our services. Spanning child care to senior care, pet care, housekeeping and more, provides a sweeping array of services for families and caregivers to find, manage and pay for care or find employment. These include: a comprehensive suite of safety tools and resources members may use to help make more informed hiring decisions - such as third-party background check services, monitored messaging, and tips on hiring best practices; easy ways for caregivers to be paid online or via mobile app; and household payroll and tax services provided by HomePay. builds employers customized benefits packages covering child care, back up care and senior care consulting services through its Care@Work business, and serves care businesses with marketing and recruiting support. To connect families further, acquired community platforms Big Tent and Kinsights in 2013 and 2015, respectively. Headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, has offices in Berlin, Austin, New York City and the San Francisco Bay area.

*As of June 2016

Natalie Gerke, 781-795-7329
Public Relations Manager

Release Summary today releases the third annual Cost of Care Survey, measuring the relative cost of care in the U.S., behaviors and emotions, and how care impacts families’ budgets and employment.

Natalie Gerke, 781-795-7329
Public Relations Manager