The Day Care Guide: Day Care Cost

Find out about tuition and fees for day care

The cost of day care can vary widely -- so much so, in fact, that it's hard to nail down an average cost. Day care facilities generally cost less than hiring a private full or part-time nanny, but you should be aware of the factors that impact cost when making the final decision about day care.

Average Cost
The U.S. "average" seems to suggest that for one toddler, in full-time day care, on weekdays, the cost is approximately $600.00 per month. But, that figure can rise to well over $1000.00 per month in major metro areas, and fall to less than $350 in rural areas.

Factors Impacting Cost

  • Number of children in a program
  • Rates for siblings in the same program
  • Ratio of staff members to children,
  • Private or public facility
  • Geographical location
  • Teaching certifications and licenses
  • Meals
  • Tutoring
  • Speech therapy or occupational therapy
  • Amount of day care needed (hours per week)
  • Early/late drop-off and pick-up fees

It's worth taking time to evaluate your needs closely before taking stock of the cost factors in your town. How much care do you need? Is it possible for you to work some days from home? Would a combination of help from babysitters and a couple days of day care work better than paying for full-time day care? How does the distance from your home to the day care influence your choice, if at all? Is there another mom you can trade a day or two of child care with in order to offset the cost of day care? There's no correct answer -- the only right way is the way that works best for you. You should also compare the cost of a month at day care to what the cost of a babysitter would be for a month. Sometimes, a babysitter can be cheaper and you also get that one-on-one attention. To find the cost of a babysitter in your area, use our Babysitting Pay Cost Calculator.

Tuition Assistance
The government's Child Care Technical Assistance Network can help you learn about day care subsidies and grants that help offset the cost of care. Search for your state to see what's available. You can also call your local town or county social services department to inquire about government assistance in your area. Your local primary and elementary schools can often direct you to town day care resources, too.

You can also find a day care center near you by searching the Day Care Directory, too.

Lisa Tabachnick Hotta writes about parenting and other issues for A freelance writer, editor and researcher, she has two young children.

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