New America and Unveil Index Measuring U.S. Child Care by Cost, Quality, and Availability

Index Accompanied by New America Care Report, featuring Independent Analysis and Reporting
Press Release
Long Story Short Media
Sept. 28, 2016

Today, public policy institute New America and (NYSE: CRCM), the world’s largest online marketplace for finding and managing care, released the Care Index, which offers a first-of-its-kind series of insights into the cost, quality, and availability of child care in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Highlights from the Index, which is a data and methodology collaboration between New America and, are:  

  • The average cost of full-time care in child care centers for all children ages 0-4 in the United States is $9,589 a year, higher than the average cost of in-state college tuition ($9,410). To cover the cost of full time in-center care, a family earning at the median household income level would need to spend one-fifth (18 percent) of its income. For an individual earning minimum wage, full time in-center care is even less affordable: Child care costs two-thirds (64 percent) of their earnings.
  • Nationally, the cost of full-time care in child care centers is 85 percent of the monthly U.S. median cost of rent. In four states—Kentucky, Montana, Oregon, and Wisconsin—the cost of full-time care is more than the median rent in the state. In 11 states—Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington—and the District of Columbia, full-time care is greater than 90 percent of the typical cost of rent.
  • Infant care in centers is 12 percent higher than for older children, and outstrips the cost of in-state tuition and fees in 33 states. Full-time infant care in centers ranges from a low of $6,590 in Arkansas, about 15 percent of median income, to a high of $16,682 in Massachusetts, where it costs one quarter of the median income.
  • The typical cost of full-time care using an in-home caregiver, or nanny, is $28,353 a year, equal to 53 percent of U.S. median household income, or 188 percent of income for a minimum wage earner, and three times the average cost of in-state college tuition. Full-time in-home care costs range between $25,774 a year in Wisconsin and $33,366 a year in Washington, D.C.
  • Nationally, only 11 percent of child care establishments are accredited by the National Association for the Education of the Young Child or the National Association for Family Child Care. Accredited child care centers and family homes range from a low of 1 percent in South Dakota to a high of 46 percent in Connecticut. In Washington, D.C., 56 percent of child care establishments are accredited.
  • Care is most available in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Alaska, Hawaii, Utah, Idaho, and South Dakota are among the states with the lowest availability of care.
  • Care is not always available for families who need it. South Dakota has the highest share of families where all parents work (82 percent) yet has among the lowest availability of care, suggesting families rely primarily on informal or “gray market” care. Utah has the lowest share of such working families, but still has a majority (63 percent) of all parents working.
  • No one state does well in all three categories, and families, care providers, and policymakers in every state make trade-offs between cost, quality, or availability.

The Care Index‘s findings are drawn from a variety of sources including unique, proprietary data on the cost, quality and availability of in-home care, and a new national survey of more than 15,000 households with children under 18 in every state, conducted in October 2015, as well as data from the U.S. Census, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children, among other sources.

In addition to the data and methodology collaboration of the Care Index, New America is releasing the New America Care Report, which includes independent analysis, data visualizations, policy recommendations, and editorial and video narratives documenting real-life experiences of parents, child care providers, advocates, and policymakers in Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Mexico. The Care Report can be found online.

The New America Care Report proposes systemic change to the early care and learning infrastructure, including additional public and private investment in early care and learning, better training, pay and professionalization of the teaching workforce, as well as policy recommendations to make high quality care more affordable and accessible to all families, including:

  • Universal paid family leave
  • Expanding and improving cash assistance programs
  • Implementing high quality universal Pre-K programs
  • Focusing resources on programs aimed at dual-language learners

The following statement can be attributed to Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Founder, Chairwoman, and CEO of

“Families are united both in their need for child care and in the challenges they face managing the cost and access to quality care. The Care Index and New America Care Report represent the first comprehensive data deep-dive into this critical topic and we believe it will put a spotlight on the challenges we face as a country and the opportunities we have to do better for all families.”

The following statement can be attributed to Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of New America:

“This research is especially timely in our current political climate. For the first time, child care is a major issue in the national presidential campaign, and both candidates are putting forward proposals to make child care more affordable for the families who need it.”

For more information, please contact Brigid Schulte,

Online Resources

  • For the state-by-state rankings and select metro-level data, view the Care Index here or download it here.
  • For analysis of the data, in-depth narratives of the child care experience in four states, video, a complete methodology, and policy recommendations, view the New America Care Report here.


Since launching in 2007, (NYSE: CRCM) has been committed to solving the complex care challenges that impact families, caregivers, employers, and care service companies. Today, is the world’s largest online destination for finding and managing family care, with 11.6 million families and 9.1 million caregivers* across 18 countries, including the U.S., UK, Canada and parts of Western Europe, and more than 1 million employees of corporate clients having access to our services. Spanning child care to senior care, pet care, housekeeping and more, provides a sweeping array of services for families and caregivers to find, manage and pay for care or find employment. These include: a comprehensive suite of safety tools and resources members may use to help make more informed hiring decisions - such as third-party background check services, monitored messaging, and tips on hiring best practices; easy ways for caregivers to be paid online or via mobile app; and Benefits, including the household payroll and tax services provided by HomePay and the Benefit Bucks program, a peer-to-peer pooled, portable benefits platform funded by household employer contributions which provides caregivers access to professional benefits.  For enterprise clients, builds employers customized benefits packages covering child care, back up care and senior care consulting services through its Care@Work business, and serves care businesses with marketing and recruiting support. To connect families further, acquired community platforms Big Tent and Kinsights in 2013 and 2015, respectively. Headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, has offices in Berlin, Austin, New York City and the San Francisco Bay area. For more information, please visit

(*As of July 2016)

About New America

New America is a think tank and civic enterprise committed to renewing American politics, prosperity, and purpose in the Digital Age. We generate big ideas, bridge the gap between technology and policy, and curate broad public conversation. In 2014, New America launched the Better Life Lab, which aims to create a community engaged in issues that include work-family balance, improved access to child care, our changing definition of family, and opportunities for female leadership.