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Study Ranks Minnesota Child Care 4th Most Expensive In US

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – If you're thinking of having a baby, get ready to pay big bucks for child care.

A new study from the Economic Policy Institute found Minnesota is the fourth most expensive state for child care. The average annual cost of sending an infant to a day care center is $16,087.

"It will be $3,500 (a month) when both of them are in day care full time," said Kelly Nyquist, a mom of two in Plymouth.

Nyquist gave birth to a baby girl less than two weeks ago. Her two daughters will both be in day care five days a week when Nyquist goes back to work in the fall.

"It's going to be tight for 2 1/2 years," Nyquist said.

St. Louis Park mom of two Nicole Albers put her daughter in an in-home day care as an infant to try to save some money before sending her to a center as a toddler. She plans on doing the same with her infant son. Child care costs typically go down with age.

"Honestly, you look at your budget and say this is what we need to do and make it work," Albers said.

So why do we pay so much? Chad Dunkley, Minnesota Child Care Association president and New Horizon Academy CEO, says it's the quality of care.

"The percentage of child care centers in Minnesota that are nationally accredited is the highest," Dunkley said.

There are stricter teaching requirements. The student to teacher ratio is lower at 4:1. In Mississippi, it's 9:1.

"Research is really strong that you need these small teacher-child ratios to give children what they need to thrive," Dunkley said.

Dunkley said more work needs to be done to provide help to low-income families that can't afford child care. He said the Minnesota Childcare Association is also trying to increase the limit on child care FSAs.

"When you see your kid loved and you see them grow, you know you're making the right choice," Albers said.

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