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“This is the most expensive we’ve ever been”: Childcare costs on the rise

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 5:42 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 17, 2022 at 5:44 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Parents are seeing the cost of childcare increase.

According to a recent study by the Lending Tree, childcare costs are up more than 40% compared to pre-pandemic prices. Part of the increase can be attributed to teacher shortages and a higher demand for childcare.

“It’s only going to go up from here and we’ve actually discussed changing the prices every year,” said Risa Cline, head of school at The Sandbox Early Childhood Learning Center.

Their prices have never been this high. Right now, it’s $1,100 a month for infants, $1,000 a month for toddlers, and $920 for three and four year-olds.

“The cost of childcare has increased quite a bit over the last few years, but especially now with the demand that there is and need of children attending, we’ve had to increase our tuition,” she said.

Their increase of about 5% is only a fraction of what some parents are seeing. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, childcare is affordable if it costs no more than 7% of a household’s income. By that rate, only 8.7% can afford infant care in Arizona.

Something else that’s high: the demand for childcare. The Sandbox and other daycares have been forced to limit their intake due to the pandemic and related teacher shortages.

“I feel like I’m turning away five to ten parents a day who are calling us to inquire about care for their children and I have to turn them away. I do refer them to other schools because I do want them to be able to go to a quality childcare facility,” Cline said.

One thing that’s helping mitigate the cost of childcare is new preschools in Pima County.

“Two big things: one, a child that has the preschool service and high quality education services, it’s night and day. They’re so successful. It also gives that parent the opportunity with the financial help to enter into the economic area, maybe get a job,” Superintendent of Pima County Schools, Dustin Williams said.

In the last month, Pima County school districts have started up three new preschools. Superintendent Williams says there’s been discussion about adding more preschools.

“These parents that have this high cost, this program really puts pima on the map as a driving force of education for kids and for parents,” he said.

For parents who are in need of childcare, but can’t afford it, the Arizona Department of Economic Security offers financial aid for those who qualify.

This includes low-income families who are working, teen parents enrolled in high school or GED classes, people experiencing homelessness, and people who can’t work due to physical or emotional conditions. You can find more information here.

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