The Cost of Child Care in the United States

Last week, Forbes published an article about child care and the high costs associated with it entitled “Child Care Is A Big Expense For a Growing Number of Families.” The article focused on how working families are spending more of their hard-earned income on child care than any other household expense.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, household gasoline costs are forecasted to average $1,962 in 2015 while the average cost of center-based child care in the U.S. is $11,666 annually.1 Thus, the cost of child care is almost ten times as high as the cost of household gasoline.

Most often, the cost of child care is compared to the cost of college tuition, as seen in the state fact sheets released annually by Child Care Aware of America. The cost of college tuition is less than the cost of infant care in 31 states! To see how your state compares, click here.

There are approximately 2.2 million individuals earning a living caring for children under the age of 5. These professionals work tirelessly to ensure that parents' minds are at ease throughout the day while leaving their children in child care. Despite tremendous responsibilities, the average income for a full-time child care professional in 2014 was only $21,710, making child care one of the lowest paying professional fields and, more importantly, one of the lowest paying occupations in early care and education.² At SmartCare, we know how hard these 2.2 million people work on a daily basis and our child care management software was built with them in mind. We want to make things like billing, sign-in and sign-out, and record keeping easier so these professionals can spend more time with children and less time managing paperwork.

Right now, in child care, approximately 80% of the cost of a child care program is for payroll and payroll-related expenses.3 At SmartCare, we know that funds are already stretched thin, therefore spending money on a child care management solution can be difficult or even out of the question, which is why we offer our software to child care centers at no cost.

If you would like to see a demo of SmartCare or learn why it’s a great fit for your child care center, please email us at