The Care Index
Explore the state of child care in the U.S.
Introducing the first comprehensive report on the state of paid child care in the United States based on cost, quality and availability of nannies, childcare centers and family daycares.
The State of
Child Care in the U.S.
State Metro
Low High
Stories from four states
Finding, paying for and providing quality child care: Hear from families, care providers and advocates about the challenges they face.
This Isn't The Baby-Sitters Club
Learn about the near impossibility of finding and affording high quality infant care in GA, despite great progress on universal pre-K. Learn more
Financial Chaos Means Family Crisis
A cautionary tale from IL in which inadequate and unpredictable government funding can dismantle early learning resources and leave both parents and caregivers in the lurch. Learn more
Can't Give Care Without Caregivers
Hear about staffing shortages in MA and the movement to improve caregiver pay and working conditions. Learn more
The Cost of the High Cost of Care
See how caregivers and families alike struggle in NM when caregivers aren't paid enough and families find it hard to afford quality care and maintain jobs in a weak economy. Learn more
About the numbers
The Care Index draws on unique proprietary data from member job postings and caregiver reviews, as well as publicly available data from other organizations including 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 in October 2015 provides additional data on paid child care arrangements in each state among households with children. Survey questions include detailed information about the primary childcare arrangement for each child, time to find a caregiver, and reasons for changing child care providers.
For the purposes of the Care Index, cost refers to the cost of 40 hours per week of care for 52 weeks for one child. Cost data for nannies is based on hourly rates offered in jobs posted by families seeking full-time child care. Child care center rates are drawn from rate cards for child care centers on The cost is normalized using U.S. Census, state-level data on median household income.
The quality component of the Care Index combines quality data for in-home child care providers (nannies), family child care providers (typically defined as sole proprietors taking care of a small number of non-related children inside of the home of the sole proprietor) and child care centers. For in-home child care providers, the data comes from parent reviews of caregivers on For family child care providers, quality is measured as the percentage of family homes in a state accredited by the National Association of Family Child Care (NAFCC). For child care centers, quality is measured as the percentage of centers in a state that are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
Availability ratings are based on unique proprietary data from on the number of active child care provider profiles on the website in a given state. For child care centers, data on availability comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which tracks the number of child care providers employed in day care centers. Each metric is calculated as a ratio of the number of child care providers to the number of children under 5, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau. By combining individual providers and family day cares and child care centers, the availability index considers the number of paid child care options relative to the number of children under 5 by state.
Overall ranking
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. Each of these three components is given equal weight when ranking states in the Index.
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