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The Best -- and Worst -- States for Child Care, Ranked in Order

Katie Bugbee
April 9, 2018

Which state ranks the best for child care? And where does your state fall on this list?

Image via Unsplash.com/@branch_portraits

This week, Care.com introduced the Care Index, the first comprehensive data report on the current state of child care in the U.S., which ranks states based on quality, affordability and availability.

The big question is: where does your state rank?

With the average cost of child care coming in at about $18,000 per year -- equivalent to the national average housing cost -- new parents are in for a rude awakening when they look into child care centers and nannies

[RELATED: "Want to Raise a Child? That'll Cost You $233,610"]

And when it comes to quality and availability, they are often faced with an even more difficult reality.


Map of the Top Ten States for Child Care

Care.com analyzed how each state ranks when it comes to child care cost, quality and availability. Providing equal weight to all three qualifying factors, the Care Index shows that even in the best states, families face trade-offs when searching for low-cost, high-quality child care that's available when they need it.


Child Care Ranking of All 50 States

When it came to the best in the country, the East Coast -- and specifically the Northeast -- fared the best, while many southern states ranked near the bottom.

Rank

State

Cost

Quality

Availability

1.

Connecticut

24

2

2

2.

New Hampshire

2

14

3

3.

Massachusetts

39

3

1

4.

Rhode Island

10

25

4

5.

Minnesota

4

4

23

6.

Vermont

18

10

5

7.

Maryland

7

15

12

8.

Maine

11

17

9

9.

New Jersey

20

38

6

10.

Hawaii

8

1

49

11.

Virginia

12

26

10

12.

Wyoming

3

5

44

13.

Delaware

14

39

7

14.

Pennsylvania

21

19

13

15.

Iowa

6

9

34

16.

North Dakota

1

49

24

17.

Colorado

25

27

16

18.

Georgia

31

13

14

19.

Florida

30

18

15

20.

Missouri

22

16

27

21.

Nebraska

5

48

28

22.

Michigan

19

43

18

23.

Wisconsin

15

40

22

24.

South Carolina

34

7

20

25.

North Carolina

40

12

11

26.

Idaho

9

11

46

27.

Oregon

29

29

25

28.

Illinois

37

28

17

29.

Washington

33

33

19

30.

Montana

17

41

32

31.

Texas

16

45

38

32.

Indiana

36

6

33

33.

Arkansas

28

24

42

34.

California

32

31

31

35.

Kansas

27

35

36

36.

South Dakota

23

32

45

37.

Alabama

41

8

29

38.

Utah

13

37

48

39.

New York

45

42

8

40.

Ohio

35

47

21

41.

Arizona

38

30

43

42.

Louisiana

44

22

40

43.

Kentucky

42

34

30

44.

Tennessee

47

21

26

45.

Alaska

26

46

50

46.

Oklahoma

43

44

39

47.

Nevada

48

36

41

48.

New Mexico

46

20

47

49.

Mississippi

49

23

35

50.

West Virginia

50

50

37

    

Takeaways

So what should parents do if they don’t feel that the quality of their child care is up to par? Or if their state didn’t make the Care.com Top 10 List?

If you have reason to believe your child care isn't sufficient, especially in terms of quality, it’s important to make a change.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Look for locally approved N.A.E.Y.C. and N.A.F.C.C. child care centers.
     
  • Get on community message boards and ask friends for their local suggestions. Really dig into why they love their center.
     
  • Discuss your concerns with your child care center and see how you and some other parents might be able to initiate change. Take a list of concerns and suggestions to the center director. A large group of concerned parents can make a big difference. You can even start a private message board to discuss your center in the Care.com community.
     
  • Create a “dream nanny” job description and send it out to friends and neighbors, and post it on Care.com. Add the hourly rate that you're comfortable paying, and see who applies. The idea behind a site like Care.com is that people who aren’t interested won’t apply.

    How to hire a nanny from start to finish
     
  • If the cost of a nanny is too high, consider a nanny share, in which two families pay for one nanny, thus cutting their care costs in half.

    7 questions to ask when touring a day care center
    8 signs of a bad day care center
    5 must-have nanny qualifications


Methodology

The Care Index is a ranking of all 50 states based on the cost, quality and availability of paid child care in each state, combining both in-home caregiving and child care center data. For more information on how cost, quality and availability are determined, go to Care.com/care-index.

The Care Index draws on unique proprietary data from Care.com member job postings and caregiver reviews, as well as publicly available data from the US Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC). A survey conducted by Care.com and New America in October 2015 provides additional data on paid child care arrangements in each state among households with children.



Want to check out more of our studies? Feel free to peruse this list:

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