Child Care: Breaking the Bank

Dec 3, 2014

Finding a trustworthy and affordable child care provider is one of the biggest challenges working parents face. At the same time, providers are asked to do demanding and important work for little pay.

Unfortunately, there's no easy answer to that problem, says infant and toddler consultant Beth Walling.

"It's like trying to tackle poverty," she says.

Walling is especially concerned, since studies show there's an achievement gap that exists at 10 months of age.

"A 3-year-old’s vocabulary can predict their third grade reading level."

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe sits down with a working mother to talk about her search for child care and the life decisions a high daycare bill has pushed her to make. Then, child care providers share the struggles of keeping parents' bills low, paying employees enough, and providing quality services.

When Hannah Sadler, an Iowa City in-home daycare provider, had her children enrolled in child care, she thought it must be a lucrative field for providers. Little did she know, studies have shown that among families where the head of household worked in child care, many are on public assistance.

"Every time I was writing a check [to daycare] I just kept thinking, 'Wow this is so much money; these providers must be just rolling in the dough,'" says Sadler. "Then once I opened my own program, it was really eye opening...all the costs associated with it."

While there's no one-clear solution to the cost of child care, many Iowa families are figuring out ways to get by. Some parents have decided to become a single-income household after weighing the cost of income versus daycare bills.

"We abandoned our search [for child care] and became a single-income household," says IPR listener Jonathan Leard. "It was too hard [otherwise] to find the right mix of quality, cost, and trust."