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The Real Cost of Child Care

Key Takeaways

  • You should start thinking about child care options as early as your second trimester.
  • Daycare centers provide educational programs and activities aimed at child development and school readiness.
  • Typically, family daycare is less expensive than nanny care or daycare center options.

Finding quality child care can be one of your most frustrating parental challenges. If you plan on returning to work, then you should start thinking about child care options as early as your second trimester — especially if you live where good child care is scarce or in high demand. That’s because it takes time and patience to find the right child care solution for your family’s needs.

It helps to compare your options and the costs associated with each, including daycare centers, family daycare, nanny care, relative care, and stay-at-home solutions.

Daycare centers $$$

Many large daycare centers provide educational programs and activities aimed at child development and school readiness — and usually require staff to have experience and/or degrees in early childhood education. Daycare centers also operate under stricter health and safety guidelines and child-to-provider ratios than family daycare.

Daycare centers are more likely to stay in business and be open year-round. Although they occasionally close due to holidays or treacherous weather, center-based care tends to be the most dependable. Many centers can accommodate children as young as six weeks or as old as twelve years, allowing your child to grow up in a consistent environment.

Family daycare $$

Typically, family daycare is a less expensive option for parents since it’s usually hosted out of a care provider’s home. Most family daycare providers are individuals who care for a smaller number of children, allowing for a better child-to-provider ratio and more individual attention for your child.

Family daycare providers are generally more flexible dealing with part-time or unusual work schedules and can adjust fees accordingly. Because of the homelike atmosphere and smaller number of children, family daycare providers are often more willing to accommodate your child’s sleeping schedule, food preferences, or other special needs.

Nanny care $$$$

Nanny-based care is generally the most expensive child care option. In addition to the cost of dedicated one-on-one care, you may also need to withhold and pay your nanny’s Social Security and Medicare taxes, and/or pay federal unemployment tax. Many nannies also receive benefits such as medical insurance and paid vacations.

In many cases, nannies provide care for a number of years. However, many individuals choose to become nannies as a temporary job while attending night school or looking for other employment. Although you can request that nannies give adequate notice before leaving, you may need to make quick alternative arrangements should your nanny quit.

Relative care $

If you are fortunate enough to have relatives or neighbors to help care for your child, it’s an option worth looking into. Often found to be the most inexpensive option, having relatives sit for a young child can be a help to a lot of parents.

Family members won’t need to be certified to care for children, but you can negotiate cost and scheduling. It’s important to have back-up care lined up, just in case your sitter becomes sick or goes on vacation.

What to remember

It’s important to evaluate your choices, and make the best choice for you and your family. While some may consider staying at home a luxury, others may find it necessary because of cost. Every situation is different, so when deciding to have a child, it’s also important to consider the cost of care.

More information

Need help managing your finances? Our dedicated colleagues can help you navigate the future and reach your potential. To learn more please call 1-800-922-9999, click here, or visit your nearest Citizens Bank branch.

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