Want to raise a kid in Connecticut? Well, you better be upper middle class because if you aren’t, you’re kinda screwed.
Although the state boasts having some of the best and most widely-available child care in the nation, it comes at an exorbitant price tag.
CT Mirror got a hold of a recent “Care Index” study by New America, which had very good and very bad things to say about our state of affairs.
On the good side, the state ranked highly in quality and availability, but abysmally in affordability. It’s cheaper to afford in-state college tuition, to say the least.
Taking a look at government data and websites such as Care.com that matches nannies with families in need of a caregiver, the Mirror reports that it costs over $31,000 in “nanny care” for a year. When it comes to day care, the findings aren’t much better, saying it’s about $11,000 a year. Per kid.
On average, a family coughs up about $20,000 annually in child care costs. For a CT resident to attend UConn’s main campus, tuition is roughly $25,000. To attend a college like Southern or Central, in-state students pay an average of $10,000 a year.
Not shockingly, this report came out on the heels of a study that found that Connecticut is experiencing a historically low birthrate. This also follows a new report that said the state has some of the most expensive child care in the nation.
That said, Connecticut can offer the best child care in the whole world, but that means jack if it isn’t affordable. We have politicians railing about achievement gaps and income inequality, yet remain quiet on a subject that is directly correlated to determining a child’s success. You want to break that cycle of poverty so bad, why not take a gander at where it all begins.
When the majority of children are having their important formative years threatened because their parents aren’t making six digits, politicians should be losing their minds. Instead, they pat themselves on the back and say “good job” because they are so focused on how well we rank in terms of quality and not scrutinizing the price tag.
The study’s lead author, Brigid Schulte, had another alarming claim. Despite the high cost of child care, day-care workers are being paid “poverty wages” and the turnover is relatively high. In order for the state to provide its exemplary care, it relies on a “patchwork” system to plug the holes.
Merrill Gay, Director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance, offers an insight as to why the cost is astronomically high. He says that is due to a lack of preschoolers in the state not attending subsidized child care centers. On the other hand, he laments that is directly caused by the insane income inequality the state is dealing with.
Gay touched upon Connecticut’s high cost of living, remarking that if a family is spending up to 50% of their income to afford the roof over their head, it leaves little options on what to do with their remaining funds.
Gay also said that requirements for families to be accepted into subsidized child care continue to be tightened, such as the case for Care4Kids, a joint federal-state initiative, who just announced tighter restrictions for applicants.
With that said, the system is in great need of reform otherwise we’ll continue to with this education and income disparity. How that reform will play out is yet to be seen. With an important election coming up, both presidential candidates have introduced their ideas on how to fix this ever-growing problem.
Here’s hoping it doesn’t share the same fate as health care.