Study: Infant Care Costs More Than Public College in DC, Md. and Va.

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(Photo credit: PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

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LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — The national discussion about increasingly unaffordable college tuition continues, but child care for infants actually costs more per year than higher education, according to a recent report.

On average, parents who place their babies in child care facilities in the District, Maryland or Virginia can expect to pay about $22,000, $13,000 and $10,000 per year, respectively.

By comparison, average annual tuition and fees at a public college in the area costs about $8,500.

To look at it another way, married couples making the median income for those jurisdictions pay between 10.6 percent and 14.10 percent of their total household income on infant care if their baby is looked after by a daycare center.

The study, which uses data from 2012, says the state with the least-affordable infant care is Oregon, where the cost at a center as a percentage of the state’s median income for a married couple is a whopping 18.6 percent. The most affordable state is Louisiana, where that percentage is just 7 percent.

D.C. and Maryland parents can expect to pay more than the cost of a year of college tuition even if they choose home daycare, which is traditionally cheaper than daycare centers.

In D.C., home daycare for an infant still costs about $15,240 annually, compared with $7,255.28 for a year of schooling at a public college, and in Maryland, the figure is $9,403, compared with $8,220 for a year at a public college.

In Virginia, home daycare for a baby costs about $8,292 per year — less expensive than the state’s average annual $9,907 price tag for a year of public college.

Luckily, the price of child care decreases as children age. The price of care for a 4-year-old is less than for an infant, and the cost of care for a school-age child is even less than that.

But even home daycare for a school-aged child — the cheapest form of care — costs $9,159 per year in D.C., $5,366 per year in Maryland, and $4,938 per year in Virginia.

A recent Pew Research Center study says the rising cost of child care may be part of the reason for a recent increase in stay-at-home moms after decades of decline.

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