This Is How Much the Average American Spends on Child Care

Even parents are surprised by the bills.

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Photo by Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

This article originally appeared on Money.

This may not come as a surprise to many parents, but: Families spent big bucks last year on basic child care services.

The majority of American households spend more than 10% of their household income on childcare — and a fifth of households more than a quarter of their income, a new Care.com report found.

Just how much are they spending? Nationally, the average cost for a week at a child care center, for one child, totaled $196. An after-school sitter set the average family back $214 for 15 hours of work a week. And hiring a nanny topped $556 a week.

Rates have risen over the past three years too, Care.com found. Two-fifths of parents said their child care costs have increased by $1,000 or more per year and 15% said it increased by $5,000 or more per year.

Child Care Sticker Shock

If those prices seem high, you’re in good company; 66% of families told Care.com that they are surprised at the cost of their child care and end up paying more than they expected. A third of families admit that they rarely or never manage to stay within their set budget.

It’s not so surprising when you consider that the Economic Policy Institute found that full-time childcare for a 4-year-old is more expensive than in-state public college tuition in 23 states.

The rising cost of care also has ripple effects in the job market. Two-thirds of working parents admit that child care worries have influenced their careers. Another three-fourths of parents say their job has been impacted when child care plans have fallen through: 78% have had to use a sick day; 37% have fallen behind on work and 28% have lost a day’s pay.

No wonder half of parents surveyed say they wanted the U.S. to offer subsidized child care.

Promises From the Candidates

It appears both sides of the political aisle have noticed. Both Republicans and Democrats have proposed plans this election cycle to provide relief to families shouldering this bill.

 

Republican nominee Donald Trump pledged to enact a policy allowing families “to fully deduct the average cost of child care spending.” (Taxpayers can already deduct many child care costs, but there are some restrictions.) And Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has supported a plan that would limit child care expenses to 10% of a family’s income.