It's entirely possible your children won't even remember the most expensive institution you ever enroll them in. On average, sending an infant to daycare is now more expensive than attending a state college, according to a new study from ChildCare Aware of America. Massachusetts residents, for instance, can pay up to $15,000. In 22 states, daycare now costs more than the annual median rent, the Christian Science Monitor reports, and in some states it can eat up half the median income for single moms.
The cost often blindsides parents, and it's a common cause of "poverty spills," in which income dips too low to cover food and rent. Yet daycare employees are some of the lowest paid in America, making reducing costs nearly impossible as well. Federal child care grants exist, but they're poorly funded; only one in six eligible children receives one. "We don’t have a good set of supports for moms who need to go to work," says one expert. "It's quite an outrage." (Read more daycare stories.)