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The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Child-Care Problem

October 14, 2016
AccessEconomics and FinanceOutcomes
Elizabeth Dias
Time Magazine

Meredith and Paul Tweed did their best to plan for parenting. They had successfully timed the birth of their first son, now 5, for the beginning of summer, since Meredith’s job as a university instructor did not offer paid maternity leave. When fall came, the Longwood, Fla., couple found an in-home child-care provider who charged $500 a month, half the cost of the nearby day-care center. But two years later, their monthly tab doubled when their second child was born. So they sold their town house and moved in with her parents for a year to save money. Meredith left teaching for an administration job with more earning potential. They bought a fixer-upper and canceled their cable—and they decided to have no more children. Child care was just too expensive.

Now, every month, the Tweeds spend $1,100 out of pocket for care for their kids while they work, just $28 less than they spend on their mortgage. Despite dual incomes, their child care costs nearly 17% of their $72,000 take-home income—more than twice as much as a year of tuition and fees at Florida State University. If the basic cost were not overwhelming enough, their older son Nathaniel was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. He needs specialist care that costs an additional $25 an hour, too much given his therapies and their health bills and car payments.