Most American Families Can’t Afford Summer

Summer is here!  Time for letting go of rigid schedules, relaxing with friends and family, and vacations by the shore.  But with school out and regular childcare providers taking vacations of their own, it's also time to grapple with the high cost of finding childcare during the summer.

This may not come as a surprise to most parents, but according to new analysis by the Center for American Progress, the average American family will spend more than $3,000 on summer programs for two children.   This amount represents 20% of the typical total household income for families in the U.S.  Moreover, this $3,000 will not completely cover childcare needs for most families.   

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The cost does vary widely from state-to-state with families in Wisconsin spending an average of $1,400 on care for two children while families in Nevada spend an average of $6,700 a summer.  

This is problematic given that 2 out of 3 children live in households where their parents work and many – almost 40% of workers –  lack vacation time and flexible schedules.  As a result, parents tend to cobble together a variety of different things for care options, including relying on family and friends, piecing together different programs that may be affordable even though they have different hours, and occasionally leave children unsupervised or in the care of older children because they cannot risk losing their jobs.  

While these challenges are scary and a top concern, there is also the problem that for those children with working parents who aren't involved in summer programs there is the issue of the summer slide. Children from low-income families who aren't able to participate in quality summer programs are more likely to lose skills and start the school year behind, thereby widening the achievement gap. 

Surprisingly, though, most parents still like the idea of summer break and don't want to do away with it altogether.  Yet, it is clear something needs to change.

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How are you coping with summer kid-coverage – and how much is it costing you?  Let us know!

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Most American Families Can’t Afford Summer

Jamie is a Beltway Insider who loves channeling her pre-motherhood love of traveling into spending time exploring all D.C. has to offer with her brood of two girls and two boys ages 9, 7,5, and a baby. She is a reformed lawyer turned full-time kid wrangler who enjoys photographing her everyday chaos and anything salted caramel. Since life is never dull, she loves writing about the issues and events going on in her life at any given time, including caring for a daughter with special needs and th ... More

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