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Childcare costs more than rent, Indiana among 11 states feeling the financial burden

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Posted at 7:32 PM, May 15, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — Childcare costs are more expensive than rent in 11 states and Indiana is one of them, according to one childcare watch dog group.

Doris Jones knows firsthand how hard that financial burden hits. She is a single mom of two. She works two jobs to provide for her family.

Jones says childcare that's high quality and affordable is hard to come by.

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"There were long waiting lists and then finding some spots that didn't have infant classrooms for my youngest at that time was hard,” Jones said. “For my oldest, even though they were in elementary school, I had to rely on after school programs."

Kristin Worstell has a seven-month-old daughter and says she was in a similar situation when she first started looking.

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"I got lucky with mine that they did have an opening right when I started back to work,” Worstell said. “I started looking for childcare I think the third month I was pregnant. So, I knew very early on and as soon as I knew, I started looking. That is kind of what you have to do in Indy.”

According to the 2023 report from Childcareaware.org, Indiana is one of 11 states where childcare costs twice the amount of average monthly rent. The report also states Indiana ranks as having the 15th highest cost of infant care in the country compared to income.

To read the full report, click here.

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"I probably have an average house here in Indy and we pay 1.5 times our mortgage in childcare,” Worstell said.

She says she live in five-bedroom home. Her mortgage is $1,200 a month, where childcare is $1,776.

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She and her husband want to have another child but are afraid they can’t afford to do so. Having a second child would mean they would pay even more.

“The situation isn’t fun at all,” Worstell said. “You want your kid to have a sibling or someone to grow up with but then at the same time, you don’t want them to go hungry and be able to have a life so it just really sucks.”

At St. Nicholas Early Learning in Indianapolis, they say they do their best to provide affordable high-quality childcare.

However, the state has requirements they have to follow, mainly making workers carry certain certifications. Once workers have those certifications, they expect to be paid at a higher rate.

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"75% of our budget goes to staff salaries,” Kay Hugus, Executive Director at St. Nicholas Early Learning, said.

Hugus says relaxing some of those requirements could make childcare more affordable if the changes are done in a mindful way.

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"How many educated certified teachers do we really need,” asked Hugus. “Who really needs it and who doesn't? Maybe go with those who have direct hands-on learning time with the kids rather than the supplemental staff.”

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That same report says while childcare prices did increase with inflation, the prices didn't outpace inflation. The U.S. average annual cost of childcare rose to just more than $11,500 last year.