As a father, providing care for your child while you are at work is a necessary expense (see Choosing Childcare). If you have never had to find daycare services for your child, it is important to know the impact these costs may have on your finances.
Childcare costs vary widely across the United States and largely depend on if you live in a rural area or urban area. In the city, childcare costs are much more expensive as the cost of living is much more expensive. Therefore, if you have a friend who lives in a rural area and they tell you how much they pay for childcare, do not be surprised if the same type of service costs up to twice as much in the city. Likewise, if you are used to living in the city and have recently moved to a rural area, do not assume that your child will not be receiving quality care because their daycare is cheaper. Keep in mind that costs will vary according to the cost of living in any given area.
Most daycare centers expect to be paid in advance of services and may bill you a daily, weekly or monthly statement depending on the services they are providing you. Also, daycare costs generally do not include diapers, wipes or other supplies. For example, you may be asked to provide diapers and wipes for your child in addition to paying for childcare services. You may also be asked to pay a monthly fee for art supplies that is above and beyond what you are paying for your child’s care. Therefore, it is a good idea to ask what additional expenses a daycare center may have before enrolling your child in a childcare facility to make sure that you can accommodate the costs in your budget.
In addition to these expenses, some daycare centers take children on field trips. These field trips may be an additional expense. Depending on how often fieldtrips are taken, this could be a significant additional expense. Be sure to ask about field trips and related costs before signing your child up for day care services.
When you are looking for a childcare facility and have more than one child, be sure to ask if the center offers a discount for more than one child. Savings can sometimes be up to 20% of the cost of childcare, so it is important to ask. Do not assume that you will automatically receive a discount just because you have more than one child; you must ask.
So, how much can you expect to pay for childcare? Anywhere from $75 to upwards of $250 a week depending on where you live. Also, babies tend to be more expensive than toddlers or school-aged children as babies require significantly more attention. Be sure to ask the day care center if their rates are reduced for older children.
If you are unable to afford childcare expenses, you may be able to receive help with childcare costs from your state. You can find more information about childcare financial assistance at http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/.