WASHINGTON — Parents who pay for childcare in D.C. pay the most for those services — by far — of any parents in the U.S., according to the “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care” annual report from Child Care Aware of America.

The study found that the average annual cost of full-time infant care in the District is $22,631 at a child care center and $16,006 for family child care.

The next most expensive place for infant care in a child care center is Massachusetts — with an annual cost of about $17,062.

While the study does explain that the cost of care in urban areas is higher than statewide averages, putting D.C. in a unique light since it is a city that is not part of a larger state, the study also ranks states by least-affordable center-based infant care, comparing the annual cost of the care with median income.

The District came in 8th on that list, while Maryland ranked 19th and Virginia ranked 36th.

Maryland’s average annual cost for infant care in a child care center is $13,932, while Virginia’s is $10,458.

In D.C., and in 37 other states, the average cost of center-based care for an infant exceeds 10 percent of the state’s median income for a married couple with children. Across all states, the average cost of center-based infant care exceeds 24 percent of the median income for single parents.

WNEW’s John Domen spoke with some local moms about their struggle to find, and afford, good child care.

When Claudia Grossmann found out she was pregnant last year, “the first thing we did was get on daycare wait lists,” she says. That’s because “options are very limited and frankly, they can sort of ask for whatever they want.”

Especially because she limited her search to accredited daycare centers, “which definitely, you know, ups the price.”

And she and her husband, who lived in D.C. at the time but have since moved to Silver Spring, had to start paying for her son’s spot at the center before he was even born, lest it be claimed by another baby.

“We sort of knew what we were getting into, because we’d heard from friends, but the reality not just of the sticker shock but the lack of supply.”

They paid about $5,000 in child care before they even had a child, and the monthly cost was about half their rent.

The study also found that, in the Northeastern region of the U.S., the average cost of center-based childcare for two children actually costs a little more than the average cost of housing.

Karen Marks and her husband, who live in D.C., are expecting twins, which means daycare will be double the cost. They are already considering their options.

“It’s our number one priority,” Marks says. “It’s the one thing we’ve done a lot of research on. We haven’t looked at strollers, car seats, anything. It’s daycare is the number one priority.”

They are on a federal daycare wait list, but are also considering the nanny and au pair options. Marks and her husband have also talked about her switching to part time work once the babies are born.

“My husband is an accountant and he’s been running the numbers. Every night he comes home and comes up with a new spreadsheet to run the numbers of, if it makes sense for me to continue working full time versus part time because of the childcare costs,” she says. “So it’s a big decision in our house right now.”

See the full study on ChildCareAware.org.

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