Watch CBS News

"Nobody wins. Everyone suffers": High cost of child care strains families

Family budgets strained by soaring child care costs
Family budgets strained by soaring child care costs 02:02

Boston — The soaring cost of child care is one of the most pressing issues facing families nationwide. The annual cost of child care rivals the cost of a college education in many states, according to a recent analysis from the Economic Policy Institute. 

Except for Washington, D.C., Massachusetts has the country's most-expensive child care. For a 4-year-old, that cost averages $15,000 per year. It's almost $21,000 for an infant. By government standards, only 5% of Massachusetts families can afford infant care. 

"It doesn't work for anybody," said Lauren Cook, who runs the Ellis Early Learning Center, a Boston institution since 1885. "Nobody wins. Everyone suffers, literally everybody." 

Ellis Early Learning Center, a nationally accredited nonprofit, provides childcare for 270 kids and has a waiting list more than double its enrollment. Tuition is as high as $30,000, but without donations, the center would close. 

"We lose money virtually on every child we serve," Cook told CBS news. 

Charging families more for the care, Cook said, "would break families." 

At Ellis, two-thirds of the kids have subsidized tuition based on low family income. Without that subsidy, Aleathia Graham's child care for her 3-year-old Aryelle would cost more than her rent. 

"You're putting that much money into daycare, then what am I gonna have saved up? How am I gonna afford a house one day," the social worker told CBS News. 

Child care costs Cassandra D'Alesandro, an architect, almost half her after-tax income. 

"I felt like I should scream, cry and vomit all at the same time," she told CBS News. "You have this repetitive question — is it worth it?" 

For years, advocates have pleaded for the government to invest in early learning, including free child care for 3 and 4 year olds. 

"We don't look at parents and ask them how they're going to afford the cost of their education for their 8-year-old," Lauren Kennedy, co-founder of Neighborhood Villages, told CBS News. "Why should they bear the full responsibility for the cost of their 2-year-old?" 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.