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The National Database of Childcare Prices (NDCP) reports that the median annual cost of care for a single child — depending on provider type, child age, and county — can require up to 19.3% of a family’s income. The Department of Health and Human Services sets the affordability benchmark for childcare at no more than 7% of a family’s annual income, meaning the average cost of childcare is unaffordable for many families.

Recent NDCP analysis reveals which states have the highest costs for childcare for children of various ages and in different locations.

Center-based care refers to childcare that is outside of the child's home, typically in a commercial building or attached to a place of worship.

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What states have the highest costs for childcare?

Based on 2016–2018 cost estimates, Massachusetts has the highest average annual cost for childcare services in six of the eight settings measured by the NDCP:

  • Center-based infant care: $23,191
  • Home-based infant care: $15,529
  • Home-based toddler care: $14,106
  • Center-based preschool care: $16,572
  • Home-based preschool care: $13,333
  • Home-based school-age care: $12,358

Massachusetts also has the second-highest average cost in the other two categories, center-based toddler care and center-based school-age care. Hawaii had the highest average annual cost for the former ($21,187 per year), and New York had the highest average annual cost for the latter ($14,406 per year). 

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What states have the lowest childcare costs?

Based on the 2016–2018 estimates, Mississippi has the lowest annual average cost for childcare services in all settings except center-based school-age care — none exceed $4,862 per year. Hawaii has the lowest annual average cost for center-based school-age care, $2,119 per year. 

In which states is childcare least affordable?

When the cost of childcare is measured as a share of median family income, center-based infant care is the least affordable in New York, California, Hawaii, and Nevada. In these states, the annual median cost for care of a single infant is more than 20% of a family’s median income. 

Care for toddlers is the least affordable in Hawaii, where the average family would have to spend 21.2% of its income on center-based toddler care, followed by Nevada, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

Preschool is the least affordable in New York, where it costs 18.1% of median family income to send a child to a center-based preschool, followed by Nevada, Oregon, California, and Vermont.

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National Database of Childcare Prices