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Child Care - Where Do Your Dollars Go?

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    Child Care - Where Do Your Dollars Go?

    By Michael Russell

    In this article we're going to discuss where the money you spend on child care actually goes.

    Believe it or not, for your average American family of 3 or more, child care expenses are 4th, right behind housing, food and taxes. Because child care is so expensive, the parents paying for this care think that the providers and centers themselves are rolling in dough. The sad truth is, this is just not the case. So hopefully this article will give you a pretty good idea of where your child care dollars go.

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    The first and probably most important part of good child care is having enough qualified people to run a child care center. The younger the children at the care center are the more people that are needed to take care of them because very young children need individual attention, unlike centers with older children that can work in groups or are even independent. It is because of this need that personnel costs at a care center can be as much as 50% or more of their total budget and operating expenses. The other 50% is taken up by space, or the rent or mortgage on the building, insurance, teaching supplies, snacks, and utilities.

    Over the years these fixed costs have risen dramatically with the price of food, oil and insurance skyrocketing because of fraud, arson and other criminal activities. In spite of this, the fees that the centers charge have remained pretty much the same when adjusted for inflation. To translate that into numbers, that means that child care teachers salaries have dropped 25% since the 1970s.

    The sad fact is, the salaries paid to child care workers are way below what they should be making and because of that, it is hard to find highly qualified people. In 1995 it is estimated that child care teachers earned about $15,000 per year on the average, which is not much over the poverty level. Assistant teachers were only making an average of $11,000 per year in the same time period. Even in comparison to the teaching profession in elementary schools, these salaries are considered low.

    It is because of these low salaries that staff turnover at care centers is so high. This should be a concern for parents because high turnover prevents their children from getting the personalized care that they are entitled to. With high turnover the relationship between caregiver and child is usually very impersonal and cold. This is not a good environment for your child. As a result of this a child's language and social skills develop slower than with children who get proper care.

    The solution to this problem is to work with government to get proper funding for these facilities and also to work with the facilities themselves. Get all the information you can about the facility in your area. Find out if the teachers have paid sick leave and benefits. If not, campaign for these things. Make your voice heard. Let those responsible for funding these facilities know that you're not satisfied with the level of care.

    You may be surprised to find out that there are people in government who will listen, especially if they have children themselves.

    Michael Russell is your independent guide to <a href="">Child Care</a>

    Re: Child Care - Where Do Your Dollars Go?

    The Parents Action for Children Foundation is an organization CJ's physician told me about that actively addresses child care issues in the US. Here is a link to their webite:

    Parents Action for Children

    This organization conducts email/letter campaigns to US senators and House Reps and has a good success rate.



      Re: Child Care - Where Do Your Dollars Go?

      I went back to work when my daughter was less than a month old. The only place I could find was going to charge me $1000/mo just for her b/c they would need to hire an additional person. She is now 20 months and has a 3 1/2 yr old sister and I pay between 1300-1500/mo in childcare. Thank god it is a tax writeoff.


        Don't you wish we could write off what we truly pay in daycare? What makes me frustrated is that we can only write off so much in daycare expenses so the people you pay to watch your children only claim this much in childcare. If I can max out at 6,000 a year for 2 kids but I'm really paying 12,000 is that fair? I have to pay taxes on all the money I make. In addition - if you use a home daycare most people can use tax deduction writeoffs on the mortgage, electricity, water and of course food unless they get assistance from the food program. I find that crazy! If I had the patience i could probably make more money than I do now.


          jasanderson, I'm not understanding some of what you are saying, but a home business of child care should be entitled and subject to the same rights and responsibilities as any other home business.
          "There is some ontological doubt as to whether it may even be possible in principle to nail down these things in the universe we're given to study." --text msg from my kid

          "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." --Frederick Douglass


            Originally posted by Joan.of.the.Arch View Post
            jasanderson, I'm not understanding some of what you are saying, but a home business of child care should be entitled and subject to the same rights and responsibilities as any other home business.
            In my area there are several home daycares that do not claim all of the income they make. As a parent I can claim whatever I paid on my income tax return but there is a max of $6,000 per year that gets counted towards your tax deducation. A lot of daycares will offer people a slight discount to pay by cash or only claim the $6,000 when in actuality I have paid $12,000 to the daycare. The home daycare provider is only claiming a portion of what they really make - especially if they are paid in cash which can be untraceable.