Quality Infant/Toddler Care


In the United States, 5 million infants and toddlers are in out-of-home care settings, with approximately half of children under 3 spending 25 hours a week in care with someone other than their parents. At the same time, quality infant care is not affordable to most families.

In 40 states, the average annual cost of center-based infant care exceeded 10 percent of the state’s median income for a two-parent family.

In spite of the astronomical costs of infant care, the outside of home care experienced by most of these young children does not meet basic safety and health requirements.

An example of finding and keeping quality infant/toddler care.

What We Know

  • The most sensitive time for brain development happens during the birth to three-year period when the young brain grows to 85% of its adult brain size.
  • Center-based child care fees for an infant exceeds annual median rent payments in 24 states.
  • Center-based child care fees for two children (an infant and a 4-year-old) exceeds annual median rent payments in every state.
  • In 36 states, the average annual cost for center-based care for an infant is higher than a year’s tuition and related fees at a four-year public college.
  • The average annual cost of full-time care for an infant in a center in 2010 ranged from $4,650 in Mississippi to $18,200 in the District of Columbia.
  • The average annual cost for full-time care in a family child care home for an infant in 2010 ranged from $3,850 in Mississippi to $12,100 in Massachusetts.
  • High-quality early care has been shown to increase school readiness, improve math and language ability, contribute to fewer cognitive and social difficulties and make it less likely for a child to repeat a grade or be placed in special education.

A child care provider is the most important component in the provision of quality child care yet the national average pay for child care providers is 20K per year and the annual turnover rate is 36%.

Parents and experts comment on low quality care.

Median hourly wages by occupation

Heckman Equation