How Much Money American Families Spend On Child Care Will Shock You

Child care costs are a non-negotiable expense. Quality providers put parents' minds at ease, but they come at a cost. A recent survey showed how much money American families spend on child care, and the numbers will surely shock you. What's more, the projected numbers will only continue to rise. For so many families, this is just a frustrating fact of life. But just how exorbitant are the costs?

In 2014, the site Care.com found that 18 percent of a household's income was spent on child care. In just three years, this percentage has jumped up to a massive 20 percent of that income. Families aren't able to choose between working and child care, so they're forced to bear the constant burden, which obliterates family budgets.

When you break it down to dollars and cents, estimated costs to take care of one child for just one week equate to $565 for a nanny, $211 for a child care center, $200 for a family child care program, $367 for an au pair, and $232 for an after-school babysitter. Add them all up and, in the end, the cost of child care outweighs the cost of college tuition.

Paying for babysitters, day cares, and nannies doesn't just cause financial rifts within families — it can cause other struggles, too. This most recent survey found that relationship tensions rise with the stress of paying for child care. Many families also reported that, due to anticipated child care costs, they've decided to have fewer children than they would have otherwise.

There is, in a way, a bright side to reports like these: a rise in awareness. In response to these ever-growing numbers, families are having to adjust to these elevated costs ahead of time, with 72 percent of them budgeting for their child care needs— up from 2014's 58 percent. Popularizing stats like these can help parents better prepare for the financial expectations ahead. "More and more families are increasingly recognizing the need to budget because the high costs of child care have been consuming the national narrative for some time now, and this has created more informed and prepared families," explains Robyn Wentzel-Freeman, a data analyst at Care.com.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the survey indicated that parents want help paying for child care in addition to the Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and tax credit assistances that exist currently. Whether the additional aid is government subsidized or employer-driven, the capital needed to keep kids safe while parents are working is just not possible for some families. Parents shouldn't have to skimp on keeping their kids safe, and going into debt to pay for child care is in no one's best interest.