The Average Cost Of Daycare Programs

Daycare programs can be important tools for many families. They allow parents to go to work or school while leaving their kids in safe hands. But unfortunately, daycare programs can also be extremely expensive and take up a huge amount of a family’s budget. This can leave many parents having a hard time balancing work and their families.

Here, we’ll talk about different daycare options and the amount of money that families in Illinois and the country tend to spend on them. We’ll also talk about some options for financial assistance that can make it easier for your family to use these resources.

What is Daycare?

Daycare programs watch and care for your children for you during the day. People can use daycare services when they are at work or school.

Daycare centers also go by several other names, including:

  • Child care programs
  • After-school programs
  • Infant care programs
  • Preschools

Many of these daycare options happen in a daycare center and charge for every month or week of service.

Daycare facilities watch your children while you’re busy. In addition to basic care, daycares usually have a wide variety of games, activities, and lessons for your kid, which can help them with their education as well.

Daycare centers aren’t the only option for daycare. Some families also use other daycare services like nannies, au pairs, and babysitters. These options are a good fit for many families because they allow for more one-on-one care, and the care usually happens in their own home.  Payment for these services is usually different than daycare options. For example, nannies are usually full-time workers who are paid a salary. Au pairs usually get a monetary payment plus room and board. Meanwhile, babysitters are often used for shorter periods of time, so they get paid by the hour. 

Daycare programs are important for many families because it lets parents enter (or re-enter) the workforce, which means that they can make money to take care of their families. In many cases, childcare programs are also good for your kids because they get to be around other kids their age. This can help them build good social skills.

Unfortunately, daycare is often fairly expensive, which means that it may be off the table for many American families.

The Average Cost of Daycare in the United States

The cost of daycare depends on whether you’re using a daycare facility, nanny, au pair, or other option. However, according to data from the not-for-profit organization Child Care Aware of America in their Child Care Affordability Analysis report, parents spent an average of $10,600 annually on childcare in the United States in 2021.

Average Cost of Daycare in Illinois

Illinois is one of the most expensive states in the country. Unfortunately, this means that childcare costs are even higher in the state of Illinois than in other states. The average cost of child care in Illinois is:

  • $13,802 per year on infant care
  • $10,3772 per year for a 4-year-old

Where to get help with Daycare Costs

Childcare can be a huge help for many families. But because it is so expensive, it isn’t always affordable for everyone. On average, the cost of childcare usually ends up being more than:

  • 10% of the average income for married couple families
  • 35% of a single parent’s income

According to the government, you should only spend about 7% or less of your family’s money on child care. This means that many families in the United States are paying much more than they should be for childcare. In Illinois, only 8.0% of families can actually afford the average cost of infant care.

What’s worse, childcare programs were also more expensive than many of the other important expenses that families need to spend their money on, like housing and healthcare. In fact, infant care in Illinois costs 15.2% more than the average rent in the state.

If you need some help paying for a child care program, there are several options for childcare financial assistance that your family might be able to use.

Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP)

The Illinois Department of Human Services’ Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) helps qualifying families and guardians pay for child care costs. If you are accepted into the CCAP, you only have to pay part of your child care costs, not the full amount. The amount of financial help you get is based on your income and family size.

To qualify for CCAP, you need to have a child under the age of 13. You also need to be making a specific amount of money based on your family size. You also need to have one of the following statements be true: 

  • You’re working and meeting income requirements, or
  • Receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and are in education, training, or other approved work activities, or
  • Are a teen parent in high school or a GED program, or
  • Are attending education or training activities, including ESL, high school/GED, vocational training, and 2- or 4- year college degree programs

If you’re interested in learning more about CCAP, you can start at the Child Care Resource and Referral System of Illinois. The Child Care Resource and Referral System (CCR&R) helps families find child care programs. They also help families walk through the process to see whether they are eligible for CCAP assistance.

Learn more about CCAP and CCR&R here.

Key Takeaways

Daycare (also known as child care) programs provide care and activities for infants and young children who can’t stay at home on their own. This means that busy working parents can dedicate more of their time to working and making money for their families. However, the cost of daycare is often too expensive for many families. This is especially true in the state of Illinois, where daycare programs cost more than many other important household expenses. 

If you are looking to place your child in a quality child care program but aren’t sure if you can afford it, the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) by the Illinois Department of Human Services can help. They offer qualifying parents financial assistance based on their income. Start at the Child Care Resource and Referral System (CCR&R) to find child care services in your area and determine whether your family qualifies.