How Much Childcare Should Cost Vs. What It Does

Some things can make all the difference between success and setbacks. For parents, one of the biggest costs they have to shoulder is childcare. Single mothers have been arrested for trying to interview for jobs with no childcare available to them. If the high cost of looking out for kids isn't on your radar, it should be.

A new report from Child Care Aware of America lays out the benefits to women, children, and families of proper access to childcare — and the way lack of it can lay them low. Much like analysts recommend spending no more than 30 percent of your income on rent, parents are advised to spend no more than 7 percent of their income on childcare. However, the CCAA report found that's virtually impossible in almost every state. Compared to median incomes (not even what's possible living on minimum wage), childcare is a major, even outsized line item in any family's budget.

Without proper access to childcare, parents can lose out on wages, opportunities for advancement, and even job security itself. Only in Louisiana can workers expect to pay just below that 7 percent threshold; the next-cheapest states take up between 7.3 percent and 8.7 percent of annual income. In Massachusetts, the most expensive state, infant daycare can cost more than $20,000 a year, more than 17 percent of the state's median family income.

Add this to debt, housing, transportation, food and other basic needs, and it's no wonder so many millennials are waiting to have kids. For those who have become parents, however, this report makes it clearer than ever how much work we have to do in supporting families so they can support themselves.