Cost of Child Care in Cook County in 2017
Child care is one of a family’s largest expenses. The amount that Cook County families pay for child care varies by region, care setting and the age of their children. On average it costs more than what many families pay for food, transportation or rent. Infant care in a child care center can cost more than sending a young adult to college. While the Illinois Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) helps some lower-income families offset these costs, middle income families must bear the full cost burden.
The federal government defines affordable child care as care that costs no more than 7 percent of a family’s income. Child care costs in Cook County exceed this amount, with families that need care for more than one child being particularly challenged.
Child Care Costs a High Percent of the Typical Cook County Family Income
Not only is child care expensive, but its cost has risen faster than overall consumer prices
Over the past five years, child care costs in Cook County have risen faster than the national rate of inflation (7 percent). This chart shows how the cost of care for 3- and 4-year olds has increased since 2012. Licensed home care prices increased at double, or nearly double, the inflation rate.
Support provided to families through CCAP has not kept pace with increasing costs
Financial support from CCAP makes it possible for lower-income families to afford center and licensed home care, which would otherwise be out of reach. CCAP payments on behalf of families have not kept pace with the rising child care costs. CCAP payment rates for child care centers are at the same level today as they were in 2012 (see chart), and payment rates for licensed home providers have not increased since 2015.
As a result, the percentage of center slots that families can afford using CCAP has declined over the years. Federal guidelines suggest that CCAP rates be set high enough to pay for 75 percent of child care slots in a state to give parents access to and choice of child care. In Cook County, parents are losing access and choice. In 2017, only 41 percent of center care slots in Cook County cost at or below the amount CCAP will pay. This chart shows the portion of center slots for 3- and 4-yearolds that families with CCAP can afford in six Cook County regions. In most of the county, families with CCAP can purchase only half or less of the center care in their area.