Source: Center for American Progress


What makes high-quality child care so expensive? The Center for American Progress has a new interactive tool that makes it easy to see how much quality costs.

Advocates can use this tool to deliver one of the most important policy messages in early education: Quality costs much more than many parents can afford.

The most expensive aspect of quality? Teachers’ pay and benefits.

To learn more, use the interactive tool. Click on the link above and enter your state and whether you want to see the costs for an infant, toddler, or preschool-age child.

Once you choose, a graphic pops up. There’s a picture of a classroom and a list of options with on/off switches such as “fewer children per teacher,” “increase contribution to health insurance,” and “make the classroom bigger.”

In Massachusetts, for example, the base price for a preschool child is $893 per month. But click on “provide more time for teachers to plan lessons,” and two things happen: the graphic changes to illustrate the choice and the cost jumps to $904. Click on “pay teachers as much as kindergarten teachers,” and the prices goes to $1,286.

Accompanying the graphic is an article called, “Where Does Your Child Care Dollar Go?”

While child care can be “the first- or second-largest household expense for families, costing more than mortgage or rent,” the article explains, this isn’t enough to finance high quality. Programs still can’t afford to pay high salaries. The result: “early childhood teachers are some of the lowest-paid professionals; nearly 40 percent of child care teachers rely on public assistance at some point in their careers.”

The article goes on to tell “a tale of two child care programs.” One costs $1,220 per month. The other costs $2,260. The difference? Quality. The more expensive program provides a larger space for children, better teacher pay and benefits (so it can attract high-quality teachers), and higher spending on classroom materials.

Want to join the Center for American Progress in its advocacy efforts? If so, you can tell your story here. Or use the “share this” button at the bottom of the graphic page to share a link to the graphic on social media or via email.

And keep sharing the article’s point with policymakers: “families cannot afford the true cost of quality” and “public funding does not come close to covering the cost of high quality.” Add these two facts together, and you’ve made “the case for increased public investment.”

States could reap the savings generated by this investment; and children would benefit from the lifelong benefits that come from participating in high-quality early education and care.