Cost of Child Care

$199 to $324
range of average weekly cost,
by age group and care type

What is this measure? The Early Childhood Council of Larimer County surveys child care providers to determine the weekly cost of full-time child care for children of different age groups in licensed day care centers and licensed home based care. We report the range of the average cost of full time care for a child in a licensed child care center.

Why do we track this? Child care is among the drivers to economic prosperity because a large portion of the workforce is made up of parents, and parents of young and school age children must have reliable and safe child care to work. Unreliable child care leads to work absences and a lack of child care options can remove talented workers from the workforce. The long term impacts of children being cared for in a high quality day care situation that supports learning and development can pay can dividends to the next generation of workers. The cost of high quality licensed child care, can greatly impact families and influences the decision of whether or not a parent can remain in the workforce.
Child care costs vary considerably based on the age of the child and the type of licensed child care (center-based, or in a family home). Care costs shown above are the cost of full-time care unless specified. Care surveys do not necessarily represent a calendar year. Series are assigned to the year represented in majority (e.g. 2018 represents values collected from October 2017 through September 2018). Additionally, the survey age categories change subtly in reports between years. Data reported may be simplified in some cases (such as values were reported as age" 2 to 2.5" and "2.5 to 3" in one year of data), the highest value reported for the aggregated category is used in the chart above. A 2014 study by Qualistar Colorado and the Women's Foundation of Colorado found that child care costs in Colorado are greater than the costs of in-state tuition and fees at public universities.
What are some limitations of this metric's source? This is a survey that may not capture a statistically representative sample in all years that allows for direct statistical analysis of cost changes between years. It also is limited to Larimer County, so while it provides a good resource for local understanding of costs, this cannot be directly compared to other regions.

How else can this be measured? Colorado conducts a market rate study for child care costs every three years, as required by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This study informs the rates reimbursed for child care through the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP). CCCAP is a child-care subsidy program that provides child-care assistance to low-income families that are working, looking for employment, or are in training,and families that are enrolled in the Colorado Works Program and need childcare services.

Why did we use this source? This is highly relevant to the cost of childcare in our county and is updated annually. There are no national guidelines or resources for tracking the cost of child care on a regularly updated basis. Individual states use their own methods for meeting the tracking requirement for child care costs under the Child Care Assistance Program.

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