“It’s a flawed system.” Child care now costs more than in-state college tuition

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Are you a parent who is juggling a full-time job?

If so, you probably need a safe and affordable place to leave your kids while at work. Sounds simple, right? Well good luck.

A new study suggests child care is now costing more than tuition for most in-state colleges.

Leslie Wright is proud of the work she does. As a mom of two, she’s stayed home to raise her kids for the past twelve years, but she didn’t have much of a choice. “it was a financial decision for us,” she said.

Wright has two college degrees. She says due to a “flawed system” she can’t put them to good use.

“As soon as I earned that degree we had children, and it was time to put them in daycare and we just couldn’t afford it,” said Wright.

The average cost of full-time daycare for kids up to the age of 4 has reached $9,589 a year, according to new report from the think tank New America. That now tops the average cost of in-state college tuition, which runs about $9,410.

The average cost of in-home care in the Hoosier State is a whopping $27,500 a year. While significantly less, the cost of full-time daycare is nearly $8,000 annually.

“I know that the government’s definition of affordable child care is less than 10% and that’s just not the case right now,” said Wright.

That means parents earning the national median household income (a little north of $53,000) would need to shell out 18% of their income for the care of just one child.

The lower your income, the higher your level of stress over footing the bill. Minimum wage workers, on average, will have to fork over nearly two-thirds of their pay for child care.

“I think employers are missing out on talented employees. More moms are choosing to stay at home, and I think it’s unfortunate,” explained Wright.

She understands it isn’t easy for daycare’s and also supports early education. Still it comes at a price she can’t justify paying. “It just frustrates me that there’s no programs out there to help middle class families pay for childcare,” said Wright.

The top five states with the highest overall care score are Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Minnesota.

The bottom five states with the lowest overall score are West Virginia, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada and Oklahoma.

What about the folks in the Land of Lincoln? On average it costs $10,000 a year for full-time daycare, that’s just for one child under the age of four.