Child Care Is Unaffordable in 49 of 50 U.S. States

Child care costs more than 7 percent of a family’s annual income in every state but one. Photo: Mike Kemp/Getty Images/Tetra images RF

Parents are well aware of the fact that child care is really, really expensive. But according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, child care is actually considered unaffordable in almost every state in the nation. The HHS considers child care “affordable” if it costs less than 7 percent of a family’s annual income. But in states such as Colorado and California, families regularly spend more than $13,000 a year on child care — about 15 percent of the median annual income.

In fact, the only state in the country that’s managed to keep costs down is Louisiana; there, the median annual income for a married couple is $85,688. Families spend about $5,754 a year on infant care (6.7 percent of their income) and $4,920 a year on care for 4-year-olds (5.7 percent).

As Fortune’s Claire Zillman explains, Louisiana has subsidized the cost of child care with tax credits designed to reward parents for investing in high-quality child care. For example, the child-care expense credit gives refunds to families whose incomes are less than $25,000 for enrolling their kids in high-quality child care — although it’s worth noting that a family is still required to pay the cost up-front.

President-elect Donald Trump has proposed (in large part thanks to his daughter) things like deducting child-care expenses from working parents’ income taxes and giving low-income households a tax credit in the form of a child-care rebate. But the people Trump’s child-care plan benefits most are upper- and middle-class families; poor families’ rebates are capped at $1,200 a year; middle-class families’ tax deductions cap out at roughly $11,600.

Child Care Is Unaffordable in 49 of 50 U.S. States