Even though early childcare educators – the people who staff childcare and preschools across the country – barely make more than the national average minimum wage ($11-$15/hr), the cost of childcare for one child tops $10,000 a year nationwide.
It’s easy to get angry about how much it costs to leave your child with someone responsible while you go to work, but if we break down the income and expenses, the truth is that no one is really winning in the current system.
We’ve shared a video below that was put together by the national advocacy group Child Care Aware of America that reveals how the numbers may seem crazy, but really aren’t. In their hypothetical child care center there are 40 full-time children enrolled for 10 hours a day, with each family paying $10k/year per child, meaning the center starts the year with a budget of $400,000…which seems like a lot more than it really is.
First, they’ve got to pay the basics of rent, utilities, and maintenance, which adds up to around 12% of their budget, or $48,000.
Church basements and people’s homes offer the lowest overhead, which leaves more cash for the other necessities on this list, but often parents prefer centers that are located centrally to high-traffic areas on their way to work.
Next up, classroom materials, food, and administrative costs – 23% of the budget, or $92,000.
Parents want to leave their child in a nice, clean classroom that provides age and developmentally-appropriate toys, snacks and/or lunches. This category also includes insurance, licensing, and accreditation fees, plus staff training and continuing education, all of which are necessary evils.
You’ve got to pay your staff, and it eats up 65% of the budget, or around $260,000 a year.
Regulations require a certain number of workers per child, and taking care of babies and toddlers all day requires a lot of eyes and hands. The base ratio is one teacher for every three infants, and one teacher for every four children 1-4 years old.
In the example in the video, the salaries are divvied up between a director ($22/hr), three lead teachers for each of the three classrooms ($13/hr) and six assistant teachers scraping the bottom of the barrel at $10.50/hr. And that’s a minimum.
This doesn’t include medical benefits or paid vacations, incidentally.
A kindergarten teacher – responsible for the education of children just one or two years older – makes an average of $36,000 more a year, and receives retirement, medical, and vacation benefits.
Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a good answer to the problem, though some states are working to provide at least one or two years of publicly-funded preschool. Offering that across the country is a far off prospect, however, and maybe a pipe dream.
After watching the video below and checking out the numbers, you’ll see that the people caring for your child are doing their best with very little.
So maybe cut them some slack, no matter how much your wallet is hurting at the end of the month.