How Much Did Households in the United States Pay for Child Care in 2012? — Child Age, Household Income, & Community Urbanicity Snapshots

January 22, 2019
Topics:
Child Care, Early Head Start, Head Start, Home Visiting
Projects:
Child Care and Early Education Policy and Research Analysis Project, 2005-2018 | Learn more about this project, National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), 2010-2015 | Learn more about this project
Types:
Reports
Cover How Much Did Households in the United States Pay for Child Care in 2012? Snapshots
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  • File Size 741kb
  • Pages 24
  • Published 2019

Introduction

These snapshots describe U.S. households’ costs for, and usage of, ECE in 2012, looking at differences by age of child, household income, and community urbanicity.

These snapshots use data from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), a nationally representative study of U.S. households and early care and education providers conducted in 2012.

Research Questions

  1. 1 How much did households in the U.S. spend on early care and education in 2012?
  2. 2 Were there differences in ECE costs and usage by household income, community urbanicity, or children's age?

Purpose

These snapshots use infographics and bullet points to summarize key findings from data tables that were previously produced by the authors of the NSECE: Early Care and Education Usage and Households’ Out-of-Pocket Costs: Tabulations from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE). The findings from these snapshots can be used to develop policies related to ECE funding and provide descriptive information for researchers interested in households’ costs for, and usage of, early care and education.

Key Findings and Highlights

How Much Did Households in the United States Pay for Child Care in 2012? An Examination of Differences by Child Age

  • Child care usage varies by child age.
    • Three-to-five-year-olds were more likely than infants and toddlers to be in nonparental care for at least five hours per week. In 2012, 50 percent of infants and toddlers and 63 percent of 3-to-5-year-olds used nonparental care regularly - at least five hours per week. (An additional 10 percent of 3-to-5-year-olds were already in kindergarten.)
    • Among children in regular nonparental care, infants and toddlers were more likely than 3-to-5-year-olds to only use care provided by an individual (either paid or unpaid), such as a family member, friend, or family child care home.
    • Among children using regular nonparental care, 3-to-5-year-olds were more likely than infants and toddlers to be in center-based care only.
  • Child care costs vary by child age.
    • Among children using regular nonparental care, about half of infants and toddlers and one-third of 3-to-5-year-olds had no out-of-pocket costs associated with their care.
    • Considering only children whose care had out-of-pocket costs, the median weekly cost of care was about $100 for an infant or toddler, and about $80 for a 3-to-5-year-old.

How Much Did Households in the United States Pay for Child Care in 2012? An Examination of Differences by Household Income

  • For families that pay for their child care, the cost of that care can be a substantial percentage of their income. Costs are greater for households with younger children:
    • Households with children under age 6 that paid for at least one regular child care arrangement for any of their children (through age 13) spent, on average, 20 percent of their household income on care.
    • In comparison, households with only older children (only children 6-to-13 years old) spent, on average, 10 percent of their household income on care
  • Households of different income levels used child care differently and had different costs for that care.
    • Higher-income families were more likely than lower-income households to use nonparental care for children under age 6.
    • In households with incomes of less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) the most common child care scenario for infants and toddlers involved relying on unpaid individual care only. In contrast, the most common child care scenario for infants and toddlers in higher-income households involved relying on center-based care only.
    • Poor households spent a greater percentage of their income on child care expenses - on average, families with incomes less than 100 percent of the FPL spent 33 percent of their income on child care for a child under age 13 whereas families at or above 300 percent of the FPL spent, on average, 11 percent of their income on care.
      1. However, the dollar amount spent on care increased with household income: Poor households spent the least (average of $97.30/week) and higher-income households spent the most (average of $143.70/week).

How Much Did Households in the United States Pay for Child Care in 2012? An Examination of Differences by Community Urbanicity

  • Households’ child care experiences varied by urbanicity.
    • Among households with children under age 13 that paid for nonparental care in 2012, households in rural areas spent the largest percentage of their income on care. Although households in rural, moderately-urban, and urban areas had similar costs for care, household incomes tend to be lower in rural areas.
    • In high-density urban areas, 13 percent of child care arrangements with a paid individual, such as a family child care home, were partially or fully subsidized. In contrast, just 2 percent and 6 percent of these arrangements were subsidized in rural and moderate-density urban areas, respectively.

Methods

The 2012 National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) was a nationally representative survey of U.S. households with children under age 13 and the ECE workforce. Households that were surveyed for the NSECE provided details on each child’s ECE arrangement(s) and costs during the past week. These three snapshots summarize data tables that were previously produced by the authors of the NSECE in the resource Early Care and Education Usage and Households’ Out-of-Pocket Costs: Tabulations from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE).

Citation

How Much Did Households in the United States Pay for Child Care in 2012? An Examination of Differences by Child Age
Forry, N., Madill, R., Shuey, E., Halle, T., Ugarte, G., & Borton, J. (2018). Snapshots from the NSECE: How Much Did Households in the United States Pay for Child Care in 2012? An Examination of Differences by Child Age. OPRE Report #2018-110. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

How Much Did Households in the United States Pay for Child Care in 2012? — An Examination of Differences by Household Income
Forry, N., Madill, R., & Halle, T. (2018). Snapshots from the NSECE: How Much Did Households in the United States Pay for Child Care in 2012? An Examination of Differences by Household Income. OPRE Report #2018-112. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

How Much Did Households in the United States Pay for Child Care in 2012? — An Examination of Differences by Community Urbanicity
Madill, R., Forry, N., & Halle, T. (2018). Snapshots from the NSECE: How Much Did Households in the United States Pay for Child Care in 2012? An Examination of Differences by Community Urbanicity. OPRE Report #2018-111. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Glossary

ECE
Early care and education
NSECE
National Survey of Early Care and Education
FPL
Federal poverty level
Last Reviewed: January 28, 2019