Childcare now costs more than in-state college tuition nationwide

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — More and more parents with young children are heading back to work, but they are finding it extremely expensive to pay for good child care.

The average cost of full-time daycare for kids up to the age of four now costs $9,589 a year. That’s more than the average national cost of in-state college tuition, which runs about $9,410.

The report, from think tank New America, shows parents earning the median household income of $53,000 a year would need to spend 18% of their income just to provide childcare for one child. It gets more expensive the younger your child is. Infant care is 12% higher than toddler care on average.

If you think getting a nanny instead is your answer, think again: the average in-home nanny will cost you an average of $28,353 a year. That’s more than half of the median household income.

Alabama is lower than the average. It costs $7,388 on average if you use a child care center, and $26,693 if you choose an in-home nanny, with a total average cost of $14,275. Still, those prices would eat up 95 percent of someone’s income working for minimum wage, and takes up 35 percent of the median household income.

For comparison, College Board says tuition and fees for an in-state student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham cost $9,708.

Click/Tap here to see an interactive map of every state.

While unaffordable for many, the authors of the study say accredited early care centers foster a child’s brain development and ability to learn.

“An effective system should be built on three pillars: affordable cost, high quality and easy availability. That is not happening in the current fragmented, patchwork system,” they wrote.

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