Average Cost of Childcare in the U.S. [2024]: By Care Type and State

The average cost of daycare for one child ranges between $293 and $321 per week, or $15,236 to $16,692 per year.

Children at a daycare
Updated May 24, 2024
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The average cost of childcare in the U.S. for one child ranges from $192 to $766 per week or $9,984 to $39,832 per year. This cost varies depending on the type of care, with infant care generally more expensive than care for older children.

For instance, the average cost of hiring a nanny for infant care in the U.S. averages $766 per week or $39,832 per year. This compares to an infant care cost of $321 per week or $16,692 per year at a daycare.

Let’s dive into the average cost of childcare in the U.S., the most- and least-affordable states, and ways to reduce your costs.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • Families are allocating an average of 29.43% of their household income to childcare, with many using up to nearly half of their savings to afford it.
  • Nannies are typically the most expensive type of childcare, followed by daycare. The weekly average for an infant care nanny is $766, while the weekly average for infant care at a daycare is $321.
  • The Midwest has the lowest childcare costs. Childcare gets more expensive in coastal states.
  • Finding quality child care is increasingly difficult. Most parents experience extended waitlists and closures of childcare centers, complicating the search for reliable care.

The cost of childcare in the U.S.

Childcare costs are on the rise, according to a recent report by Care.com.

Nanny costs increased by 4% in 2023, while daycare costs went up by 13%. Babysitter costs increased by 7%, while family care center costs only increased by 0.4% in 2023.

While rising costs are the norm, these increases mostly outpace inflation and take a significant portion of families’ incomes.

How much does childcare cost?

Childcare costs vary significantly based on the child’s age, your location, the type of childcare service you select, and other factors.

Here’s a look at the average national costs of different types of childcare for one infant:

Type of infant care Average weekly cost Average annual cost
Nanny $766 $39,832
Daycare $321 $16,692
Family care center $230 $11,960
Babysitter $192 $9,984

These costs somewhat decrease for toddlers:

Type of toddler care Average weekly cost Average annual cost
Nanny $755 $39,260
Daycare $293 $15,236
Family care center $219 $11,388
Babysitter $192 $9,984

For families with multiple children, these costs can increase substantially. Some parents choose to space their children's births to avoid the financial strain of simultaneous childcare expenses, while others prefer having children closer together to consolidate these costs.

Many childcare providers offer sibling discounts, which can reduce the total cost for families with more than one child in care. For example, the average weekly rate for two children in daycare is calculated by adding the weekly rate for one child to the rate for the second child, with a national average sibling discount of 10%.

Average childcare cost per state

Childcare is typically more affordable in the Midwest and more expensive in coastal states. These state-based variations are due to operating costs, local taxes, wages, and more.

For example, childcare centers located in more expensive states must pay higher wages to attract talent. However, most workers at childcare facilities still earn low salaries.

Childcare centers also have to contend with higher property taxes, especially if their facilities are located in cities with elevated costs of living. Marketing campaigns to reach potential customers also add to their operating costs, along with regular business expenses like insurance, equipment, utilities, and supplies.

The most affordable states for childcare

The three most affordable states for childcare costs are located in the Midwest region, according to a study by HelpAdvisor.

State Average weekly cost Average annual cost
Iowa $182.42 $9,485.84
Mississippi $203.38 $10,575.76
Oklahoma $209.41 $10,889.32

These states offer a more manageable financial situation for families. The lower expenses in these states can offer families the opportunity to allocate their resources to other essential needs or savings, potentially easing the overall financial strain of raising children.

The least affordable states for childcare

Childcare gets more expensive as you move closer to the coasts. That’s also true for the cost of living in general. These are among the worst states for childcare costs.

State Average weekly cost Average annual cost
Nevada $493.46 $25,659.92
New Jersey $442.19 $22,993.88
Washington, D.C. $427.90 $22,250.80

Families in these states face child care expenses that far exceed the national average. The high costs can limit parents' ability to work or pursue further education, further deepening the economic challenges faced by households.

How to manage childcare costs

Effectively managing childcare costs requires a combination of strategic planning, smart budgeting, and exploring all available resources.

1. Negotiate favorable childcare and work terms

  • Choose childcare options wisely: Compare the costs and benefits of different childcare options, such as daycares, nannies, or family care centers, to find the best value for your family.
  • Negotiate with childcare providers: Don't hesitate to discuss rates with your childcare provider. Some may offer discounts for full payment or having multiple children.
  • Flexible work arrangements: If possible, arrange with your employer to work from home or adjust your schedule to reduce the number of days your child needs care.
  • Seasonal Childcare: Assess whether you need year-round, full-time childcare or if seasonal options, like summer camps or community centers, would suffice.

2. Utilize child-related tax benefits

  • Utilize tax credits and subsidies: Make sure to look through government programs, tax credits, and subsidies available for childcare to reduce out-of-pocket costs.
  • Use a dependent care flexible spending account (FSA): Contribute pre-tax dollars to a dependent care FSA to pay for eligible child care expenses, effectively reducing your taxable income.

3. Explore financial aids and subsidies

  • Look for financial assistance: Check childcare centers for scholarships or grants. Eligibility may depend on your state, career, location, or if you're studying while parenting.
  • Research government subsidies: Check if your state provides financial help for families struggling with childcare costs. To qualify, you may need to meet specific income requirements.
  • Investigate scholarships and grants: Look into daycare centers for financial aid. Your eligibility may depend on your finances or if multiple children attend the same center.

4. Make smart money moves

  • Review and adjust your budget: Regularly work on managing your money and examining your spending habits to identify areas where you can cut back and allocate the savings towards your childcare expenses.
  • Prioritize essential spending: Focus on essential needs and reduce the amount of money you spend on non-essential wants. This might mean dining out less or opting for cost-effective entertainment options.
  • Share childcare with other families: Consider a nanny share or swapping childcare duties with friends or neighbors to cut down on costs.
  • Increase your income: You can also look into additional ways to make extra money to make childcare costs more feasible.

Is childcare tax deductible?

Certain child care expenses can reduce your tax bill. This is known as the child and dependent care credit.

To be eligible for this credit, you need to meet these requirements:

  • You paid someone to care for your child so you (and your spouse, if filing jointly) can work or search for jobs.
  • You (or your spouse) lived in the U.S. for more than half of the year in which you claim the tax credit.
  • Your child is under 13 or is incapable of self-care and lives with you for more than half of the year.

Parents can typically claim a child and dependent care credit that ranges from 20% to 35% of up to $3,000 for one qualifying child or $6,000 for two or more qualifying children.

Tax credits can save you more money on your tax bill than tax deductions. That’s because tax deductions reduce your taxable income, while tax credits reduce your final tax bill.

Childcare FAQ

What is the average annual cost of childcare in the U.S.?

The average annual cost of childcare for one child in the United States is $16,920.28. That comes to $325.39 per week.

What is the most expensive state for childcare?

Nevada has the highest average cost for childcare. The average annual cost for one child comes to $25,659.92. That’s $493.46 each week on average.

Why is childcare in the U.S. expensive?

Childcare in the United States is expensive due to several factors. Areas with higher costs of living typically have more expensive daycare options since these facilities have higher monthly expenses. Many childcare companies have gone out of business in recent years, which has allowed for-profit childcare corporations to gain significant market share. Supply is relatively low while demand remains strong.

Average cost of U.S. childcare: bottom line

U.S. childcare costs are rising due to stable demand and fewer competitors in the industry. The average cost of childcare for one child ranges from $192 to $766 per week or $9,984 to $39,832 per year.

Higher costs of living in coastal cities have elevated daycare costs. Americans in the Midwest typically pay less for child care compared to people who live near the East Coast or West Coast.

Although costs are rising, families have several ways to reduce their childcare expenses. We recommend partnering with other families who have children, getting help from your parents, and working remotely to trim your total costs. Make sure you keep track of your childcare expenses throughout the year so you can claim qualifying expenses under the child and dependent care tax credit.

Author Details

Marc Guberti, CPFC

Marc Guberti is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor (CPFC) known for his extensive expertise in personal finance matters. With a degree in finance from Fordham University, Marc has written on everything from investing to banks and credit cards for more than five years.