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What is in-home day care and how much will it cost me?

Jenny Powers
May 21, 2018

In-home day care — or family day care, as it is also commonly known — is child care service in a caregiver’s home rather than in a commercial day care center.

In-home day care services can range from informal arrangements, like the retired neighbor who watches a handful of local children in her home, to a more formal environment offering state-licensed and accredited programming led by a caregiver with a degree in early childhood education.

According to a recent Care.com Cost of Care Survey, nearly one in three families spends 20 percent or more of their household income on child care, and the survey reflects that those costs are rising each year. The survey also found that 67 percent of new parents are taken by surprise by the costs of how much child care winds up costing them. In fact, according to Child Care Aware of America, child care costs are even outpacing college tuition.

Breaking down the cost for families

Christine Furgason, 49, has owned and operated Christine’s Childcare in Greenwood Village, Colorado, since 2013. In 2015, she became a licensed provider, which allows her to care for up to six children in her home. However, she said her personal preference is to care for up to four children maximum.

“If you are able to find good home day care, it’s way better because as a parent you have more flexibility, there’s less turnover, less risk for children to get sick, and more bonding takes place in a home setting,” Furgason said. “With a small group like this, we can do field trips and I can show them the world outside these four walls. That’s more difficult to do in a center.”

She said she provides the children in her care with breakfast, lunch and snacks, which include organic fruits and vegetables, as well as organic milk. She also provides some extras like wipes and sunscreen, while parents are responsible for diapers. Furgason’s hours are Monday through Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and until 4:30 p.m. on Fridays. Parents pay $325 a week ($65 daily), or $75 a day for part-time care. On the few occasions when Furgason cannot personally be at work — like when her own son graduated from kindergarten — she’ll enlist the help of a local mother who is a licensed social worker.

Yelena Boguslavsky, 34, said she first learned of a local home day care in her neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, through a trusted co-worker and enrolled her son in the program when he was 13 months old. Her son, who turns 3 in July, continues to attend the program daily from 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., though hours run until 6 p.m. According to Boguslavsky, there are two head teachers along with an assistant to care for approximately 16 children.

“The day care provides all the meals — breakfast, lunch, snack and another snack for the children that are picked up after 5 p.m.,” said Boguslavsky, who pays $50 a day for a total of $1,040 per month, or $12,480 annually.

Parents are responsible for the diapers at Boguslavsky’s son’s day care, as well as any ointment the child may need, while the program provides the wipes.

“[Home day care] was highly recommended, and the pricing was affordable compared to the day care centers in the area,” she said.

While home day care is typically the least costly option for families (besides free care, of course), pricing can vary widely based on a number of factors including where you live, your provider’s experience and whether they’re licensed by the state, what services will be provided, and the age and needs of your child or children.

Determining factors of day care costs

Location: Where you live will strongly determine how costly these services can be. In-home day care in small, rural towns will generally be more affordable than in big, metropolitan cities. According to the national non-profit organization Child Care Aware of America (CCAA), Mississippi offers the lowest cost home day care, while Massachusetts tops the list, followed by New York and Connecticut as the next most expensive.

Here’s a list of average home day care pricing around the country for an infant and a 4-year-old child, according to CCAA: 

State

Annual Cost

(Per Infant)

Annual Cost

(Per 4-Year-Old)

Alabama

$4,867

$5,003

Alaska

$10,101

$9,645

Arizona

$7,057

$6,603

Arkansas

$5,211

$4,748

California

$8,878

$8,444

Colorado

$9,741

$8,735

Connecticut

$10,452

$9,984

Delaware

$7,640

$6,798

Florida

$7,700

$6,523

Georgia

$6,202

$5,638

Hawaii

$8,112

$8,172

Idaho

$6,388

$5,834

Illinois

$8,366

$7,781

Indiana

$6,637

$6,182

Kansas

$7,051

$6,240

Kentucky

N/A

$12,452

Louisiana

$3,900

$4,290

Maine

$7,849

$7,215

Massachusetts

$12,636

$11,834

Michigan

$7,179

$6,760

Minnesota

$8,320

$7,540

Mississippi

$3,483

$2,744

Missouri

$5,564

$4,836

Montana

$7,440

$6,888

Nebraska

$7,194

$6,634

Nevada

$8,572

$8,013

New Hampshire

$9,152

$8,632

New Jersey

$9,311

$8,477

New Mexico

$7,851

$7,532

New York

$10,972

$10,140

North Carolina

$7,412

$6,548

North Dakota

$7,132

$6,842

Ohio

$7,358

$6,731

Oklahoma

$6,848

$5,964

Oregon

$8,824

$7,317

Pennsylvania

$8,066

$7,238

Rhode Island

$10,179

$9,375

South Carolina

$4,680

$4,420

South Dakota

N/A

$15,220

Tennessee

$6,183

$5,715

Texas

$6,726

$5,272

Utah

$8,824

$7,317

Vermont

$8,205

$7,749

Virginia

$9,516

$8,060

Washington

$10,457

$8,333

West Virginia

$6,500

$5,720

Wyoming

$7,800

$7,800

Provider experience: Pricing will vary based on your chosen provider’s experience. For example, is the caregiver a local mom or friend with some babysitting experience under her belt? Or does the caregiver have a master’s degree in early childhood education and certifications in CPR, first aid and emergency preparedness? The more certifications and formal education the caregiver has will likely be reflected in the cost of care.

Licensing and accreditation status: A licensed and accredited in-home child care provider will typically cost more due to their overhead costs versus a local mom who watches two children along with her own and isn’t licensed. Working with a licensed practitioner is an important factor to consider when employing a caregiver. Having a license means providers must abide by certain caregiver/child ratios, space requirements, and safety regulations. Without a license, caregivers may not be required to do so and are not regulated by any governing body.

Child’s age: Is your child a newborn or infant who needs to be fed, burped and have their diaper changed throughout the day? If your answer is “yes,” this could be the costliest age in terms of care, as infants require the most attention. Once a child turns 2 years old, child care costs generally decrease.

Meals: Will your caregiver provide a nutritious breakfast, lunch and snacks for your child? If so, be prepared for those meals to be factored into your overall child care cost. If you plan or are required to provide your own food for your child, you might pay less, depending on the policies.

Supplies: The more the caregiver has to provide, in most instances, the costlier the service. Are you required to supply baby wipes and other related supplies or will they be provided by your caregiver?

All these factors and more — depending on your specific situation — come into play when it comes to the overall cost of in-home day care.

Read next: In-home day care vs. day care centers — what's the difference?

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