How Much Does Daycare Cost?

Last Updated on April 3, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Finding affordable, quality childcare is one of the top concerns for working parents with young children. But daycare costs can vary widely based on numerous factors like location, age of child, program type, and more.

This guide examines the expenses involved in daycare and the elements that influence pricing across different regions and situations.

Understanding cost dynamics allows parents to make informed decisions in choosing care to optimize their family budget and needs. Whether researching home daycares, preschools, or daycare centers, use this advice to demystify daycare costs.

How Much Does Daycare Cost?

The cost for daycare can cost a parent from $600 to $2,000 per month.

Infant care tends to cost more than for older children. While prices fluctuate significantly by location, age, and other variables, here are some baseline national averages:

  • Home daycare – Approximately $25-$50 daily ($150-$300 weekly, $600-$1,200 monthly)
  • Daycare center – Around $30-$60 daily ($180-$360 weekly, $700-$1,400 monthly)
  • Nanny care – From $15-$25 per hour for 1 child ($700-$1,200+ weekly)
  • Au pair – About $300-$500 weekly ($1,200-$2,000 monthly)

For comparison, families in expensive coastal cities like Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, and Washington D.C. often pay $2000-$3500+ monthly for full-time infant care at higher-end daycare centers.

While daunting, understanding cost dynamics helps families set realistic budgets.

Care.com lists in an article the following prices:

  • Average weekly daycare cost: $321 (up 13% from $284 in 2022).
  • Average weekly family care center cost: $230 (up 0.4% from $229 in 2022).
  • Average weekly babysitter cost: $192 (up 7% from $179 in 2022).

The article from Illumine provides insights into the annual daycare costs by state in the USA, such as Arizona residents paying $10,948 annually for infant care and preschool for 4 or 5-year-olds costing a certain amount. According to them, childcare in the US can cost from $5,000 up to $21,000.

The article from Bankrate discusses the rising cost of child care in 2023, providing information on the average cost of child care in the U.S. The range for annual daycare costs varies significantly across states, from as low as $6,014 to as high as $15,371.

Daycare Cost Components

Daycare centers and providers quote prices that generally encompass:

  • Tuition – The base fee covering supervision and care for your child during operating hours. Often charged weekly or monthly.
  • Enrollment fee – One-time charge to register with the daycare, typically $50-$150.
  • Activity fees – Covers costs for structured learning activities, arts and crafts projects, cooking, STEM projects, physical education, enrichment programs, etc.
  • Meal fees – If lunch and snacks are included, meal fees range from $25-$100+ weekly per child.
  • Special needs fees – Additional hourly fees charged for specialized care required for some children based on behavioral, developmental, or health needs.
  • Transportation fees – For daycares that provide pickup/drop-off or field trip transportation using their vehicles and staff, fees generally range from $50-$150 monthly.
  • Extended hours fees – Late evening, early morning, or weekend care beyond standard operating hours may command hourly rates similar to babysitters, $15-$25.

Understanding exactly what is and isn’t included helps accurately budget for out-of-pocket costs.

Factors Influencing Daycare Costs

Primary elements that affect daycare pricing are:


Urban daycares in high cost-of-living cities like New York and San Francisco charge the highest rates, averaging $2,000+ monthly for infants.

Rural daycare center tuition often starts under $600 per month for infants.

Also an Interesting Read, The Cost of Child Adoption

Population density, home prices, and demand impact location-based pricing.

Age of Child

  • Infant care (0-12 mos) – Most expensive due to intensive needs and lower caregiver-to-child ratios.
  • Toddler care (1-2 years) – Slightly lower than infants but still higher than older children.
  • Preschool (3-5 years) – More independent. Cheapest with higher staff ratios.

Type of Daycare

  • Daycare centers – Higher overhead like rent and more qualified staff with resulting higher tuition rates.
  • Home daycares – Providers operate out of their residences at lower cost and pass savings on through cheaper rates.
  • In-home care – Nannies allow total customization and flexibility but require private pay at higher hourly rates. Au pairs offer live-in care and cultural exchange at lower cost.

Teacher-to-Child Ratio

  • Programs with lower ratios (more teachers per child) facilitate quality interactions and developmentally appropriate activities.
  • But higher ratios (more children per teacher) enable providers to charge cheaper tuition rates.
  • Premium ratios for infants may be 1:3. Budget daycares might have 1:5 ratios or higher.

Credentials and Experience

  • Daycares with staff holding more early childhood education degrees, certifications, and training demand higher tuition rates. Their expertise warrants a premium.
  • Those with less qualified staff offer cheaper rates but often inferior care and high turnover.

Check Out The Price of Having a Baby

Programming and Curriculum Quality

  • Providers offering bespoke premium facilities, enrichment offerings, activities, and educational curriculum calibrated to early childhood development stages can charge more for the value-added program quality.
  • Budget daycares tend to rely on TV, tablets, and packaged programs. Evaluate programming closely.

Hours of Operation

  • Centers with extended hours, weekends, and flexible scheduling cater toward working parents and dual-income households, warranting marginally higher rates in some cases.
  • Traditional weekday-only preschools tend to offer cheaper part-time programs.

Comparing Daycare Options and Pricing

childcareWhen deciding on childcare, weigh the following popular options and their typical price points.

Daycare Centers

The traditional full-service hub offering supervised care in a dedicated facility.

  • Convenient locations, fully staffed
  • Stimulating group environments and activities
  • Standard business hours to match work schedules
  • Higher prices, averaging $900-$2500+ monthly

Home-Based Daycares

Small licensed in-home daycares, often run by experienced childcare providers.

  • Warm setting in residential homes
  • Mixed age groups up to ~6 children
  • Extended or flexible hours sometimes
  • Lower rates around $500-$1500 monthly

Preschool Programs

School-preparation-focused programs for ages 3-5 with educational themes and structure.

  • Learning-based curriculum and classroom environment
  • Socialization and pre-academics
  • Operate ~3 hours during school day
  • Part-time only, $200-$1000+ monthly

Nannies or Au Pairs

One-on-one customized in-home care from individual caregivers.

  • Tailored scheduling and activities
  • Higher cost at $15-$30 hourly for nannies
  • Set weekly rate for au pairs at $300-$500

Available Assistance Programs

Many avenues exist to reduce daycare expenses for families who qualify:

Government Subsidies and Support

  • Head Start – Free or discounted daycare for qualifying low-income families.
  • State subsidies – Vouchers and assistance for residents meeting income limits, reducing daycare tuition by up to 50% or more.
  • Tax credits – Reductions in tax liability up to $3000 per child for qualifying childcare expenses.

Employer Benefits

  • Flexible Spending Account (FSA) – Set aside pretax income from paychecks into an account to use on dependent care like daycare.
  • On-site daycare – Large companies may offer free or discounted on-campus daycare services for employees.
  • Childcare stipends – Some employers provide monetary stipends to offset daycare costs, often $300-$1000 annually.

Grants, Scholarships, and Discounted Rates

  • Need or merit-based financial grants and scholarships to cover all or part of daycare costs. Awards can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
  • Military discounts – Reduced daycare rates for active-duty families, often 10-25% lower.
  • Corporate discounts – Lower rates for employees of partner organizations and major local employers through daycare-company contracts.
  • Sibling discounts – Many daycares offer 5-20% reduced rates for additional siblings enrolled.

Thoroughly researching programs, you may qualify for can significantly lower out-of-pocket daycare expenses.

Tips for Controlling Daycare Costs

Strategies to reduce daycare costs include:

  • Seek employer childcare assistance through subsidies, vouchers, or pretax accounts
  • Find the most affordable quality option that meets your needs
  • Compare pricing across multiple providers
  • Negotiate rates especially for multi-child discounts
  • Stagger schedules for part-time savings if you have flexibility
  • Use community resources like recreation centers for occasional care

Also take advantage of any relevant tax credits, dependent care accounts, and financial assistance.

Additional Daycare Fees to Account For

On top of tuition, childcare providers commonly charge fees like:

  • Application fees – One-time charge to enroll, typically $50-$100
  • Registration or supply fees – Charged annually or per semester to cover activity supplies and administrative costs, $50-$250
  • Field trip fees – To cover admission fees and transportation for outings, often $5-$30 per trip
  • Transportation fees – For regular daily pickup/drop-off using daycare vehicles and staff, $50-$150 monthly
  • Late pickup fees – Typically $1 per minute after closing time
  • Holiday or summer care – For full-day care on school holidays, teacher training days, and summer break, often an additional $25-$50 daily over standard rate
  • Special needs fees – Hourly fees above base tuition for additional staff support required

These extra costs can quickly add up. Make sure to account for them in your daycare budget.

Future Outlook on Daycare Costs

Daycare costs have been rising rapidly, forcing many families to make tradeoffs. But possible future counter-trends include:

  • Increased remote work flexibility reducing demand
  • Expansion of employer benefits like on-site daycare
  • Government subsidies to increase affordability
  • Staff shortages prompting higher wages and tuition increases
  • Growing waitlists for limited infant and toddler capacity

Stay tuned for potential changes that could impact daycare costs in the coming years.

Final Words

Daycare costs vary widely based on a multitude of interplaying factors. Thoroughly researching options and arm yourself with pricing knowledge so you can budget accurately and find the optimal arrangement for your situation.

Remember to look at total value, not just price. The quality childcare, early learning foundations, and peace of mind offered hold enormous lifelong value for children that outweighs small cost differences between providers.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much of your budget should go to daycare?

Daycare costs often average 10-20% of a family’s budget, with higher-income households spending a smaller percentage than lower-income families. Aim to keep daycare below 10% of your household income if possible. Calculate your precise budget based on local daycare rates and look for any financial assistance available.

How much is childcare per hour in California?

In California, average hourly rates for childcare are:

  • In-home care – $15-$25 per hour
  • Daycare center – $10-$20 per child per hour
  • Nanny services – $20-$35 per hour
  • Au pair – $15-$25 per hour

Exact costs depend on location, ages, and number of children. Cities have higher rates.

How much is daycare for a 2-year-old in Florida?

In Florida, average monthly daycare rates for a 2 year old range from:

  • Home daycare – $800-$1,200
  • Daycare center – $1,000-$1,800
  • Part-time preschool – $500-$1,000
  • Nanny – $15-$25 per hour

Miami, Orlando, and other major metro areas fall on the higher end of these daycare price ranges.

How do I create a childcare budget?

Steps to create a daycare budget:

  1. Research average local rates for the type of care needed
  2. Add up all potential costs – tuition, fees, meals, transportation etc.
  3. Factor in discounts like sibling discounts you may receive
  4. Determine if you qualify for financial assistance programs
  5. Adjust other areas of your budget to accommodate daycare costs
  6. Allow for increases in future years as costs rise
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