diversitydatakids.org: quality of life and diversity data on families
The Heller School For Social Policty And Management The Heller School For Social Policy and Management Brandeis University

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Percent of Total Family Income Spent by Full-Time Full-Year Working Parents on Child Care if They Paid for Full-Time Center-Based Care

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Source: diversitydatakids.org based calculations of annual total family income on the Current Population Survey, 2014-2017 March Annual Social and Economic Supplement, Public Use Microdata Files, IPUMS-CPS, University of Minnesota, www.ipums.org. Child care costs data are taken from Parents and the High Cost of Child Care 2014-2016 and 2017 State Child Care Facts published by Child Care Aware of America. Child Care Aware estimates costs for each state based on surveys of Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) state and local offices. CCR&Rs report costs based on market rate surveys and internal databases.


Percent of total family income it would cost for full-time, full-year working parents with four or fewer children to send all children aged 13 and under to full-time center-based care (presented as the median).


NA=Not Applicable. To create this measure we first calculate the total expected child care costs for a parent working full-time full-year if he/she was to place his/her own children under 13 in full-time care. We exclude a small number of parents with more than four children from the sample. These estimates measure the annual costs associated with three types of child care: 12 months of infant center-based care (for children aged 0 to 2), 12 months of preschool center-based care (for children aged 3 to 5), and 9 months of school-age center-based care (for children aged 6 to 13). We then compare each parent’s estimated total center-based child care cost to his/her total family income. In 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services established 7% of family income as the benchmark for family spending on affordable child care. Click here to view the benchmark (click on “View 2016 CCDF Final Rule” and see last paragraph of middle column on page 67440). This measure accounts for the state variation in costs of center-based care. This measure does not capture the costs of actual care utilized by parents, nor does the measure account for unpaid care or for paid care for children aged 6-13 in the summer months. The sample for this analysis is working parents who are working full-time full-year (35 hours or more per week and 50 or more weeks per year) with four children or fewer (N=71,981). We exclude from the analysis a small number of parents that had estimated child care costs of over 100% of annual family income (N=754). The CPS reports the age of a parent’s youngest child and oldest child. For the 20% of working parents in the sample with more than two children, we conservatively estimate the costs of the middle children’s care by assigning them the lowest care cost option they could logically attend based on the ages of their older and younger siblings. The Child Care Aware 2014-2017 reports present annual child care costs for the years 2013-2016 (in 2013 dollars, 2014 dollars, 2015 dollars, and 2016 dollars respectively). These years of data align with the CPS 2014-2017 surveys since the CPS asks about a family’s income from the year prior to the survey year. Estimates for Minnesota and North Dakota are not available due to missing care cost data. Data used for calculating this indicator are drawn from surveys and are therefore subject to sampling variability; indicator values should be compared with caution. For 95% confidence intervals and diversitydatakids.org reporting standards, click here.

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