How Much Daycare Costs

While “lower cost” is one of the reasons parents often cite for choosing daycare, it is still by no means inexpensive.  National organizations will cite cost ranges from $350 a month to $1,500 a month, but those figures are typically based on statewide averages.  In urban areas, those costs skew much, much higher.  In D.C., for instance, if you or your spouse is an active duty member of the military, a subsidized facility costs $640 a month.  Otherwise, it is $2,000.

One of the women I interviewed was third in line on the waitlist for one of these subsidized facilities; she felt like she’d won the lottery.  And then, inexplicably, her child was bumped to 77th because of some opaque priority system.  “It was devastating,” she told me.  “We were in the midst of applying for a mortgage to buy a house, and we had to tell the bank there had been a major change in our financial situation.”  You need to earn $20,000 more in pre-tax salary to account for a difference like that.

And in most cases, you’re paying year round, even if you take your child out for two weeks of vacation.  In New York City, we were seeing rates in the $2,500 range.