By ERIC MORATH
from Wall Street Journal
Think college is expensive? Try sending your kid to full-time day care or preschool.
In nearly half the country, it’s now more expensive to educate a 4-year-old in preschool than an 18-year-old in college, a finding that illustrates the rising burden many families face affording care for children.
The annual cost of care for a 4-year old at a full-time day-care center or school is greater than the average cost of in-state tuition at a four-year institution in 23 states, according to new data from the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank.
In Massachusetts, the state with the highest child-care costs, care for a preschooler is $12,781 annually or almost 20% more than an undergrad’s average tuition of $10,702.
Care for a 4-year old is 73% more expensive than college in Florida, the state with the largest disparity. Florida has among the country’s lowest college tuition costs but average child-care costs of $7,668 a year.
“High-quality child care is out of reach for many families,” said EPI research assistantTanyell Cooke. “This crisis is not limited to low-income families, nor is it unique to certain parts of the country. It affects everyone, in every state.”
In 40 U.S. states, the average cost of child care exceeded 10% of the median income for a family of four, the EPI research showed. The government defines child care costing less than 10% of a family income as “affordable.”
In New York, 17.5% of a typical family of four’s income would go to child care, the highest of any state. In contrast, child care in South Dakota would account for 7.8% of a similar family’s budget, the smallest of any state. The annual cost of care for a pint-sized South Dakotan is $4,804.