Catalyzing Growth: Using Data to Change Child Care

Understanding the child care landscape is a crucial first step toward advocating for an equitable, accessible and affordable child care system.

Annual Child Care Landscape Analysis

CCAoA’s analysis found that there was an increase in the number of child care centers and a decrease in the number of family child care (FCC) homes from 2021 to 2022. However, the decline in the number of FCCs is smaller than in recent years.

Child Care Centers

The number of licensed centers totaled 92,597 in 2019 and 93,124 in 2022, in the 41 states for which we had data for each year. Between 2021 and 2022, the number of licensed child care centers increased by approximately 3%. The number of licensed child care centers returned to and surpassed pre-pandemic levels in 2022.

Family Child Care

There were 106,889 licensed FCC homes open in 2019 and 94,936 open in 2022, in the 39 states that had available data. From 2021 to 2022, approximately 2% fewer FCC homes were open.

The rate of the decline in the number of FCC homes open moderately slowed between 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, but the trend remains downward overall. There has been an 11% decline in licensed FCC homes since 2019.

2022 Child Care Supply: State Trends

Select a state or territory: 

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Annual Price of Care

2022 Child Care Affordability

CCAoA found that the national annual average price of child care for 2022 was $10,853. That average was calculated by averaging three methodologies for understanding national prices.

  • It would take 10% of a married couple with children’s median income to afford this national average price.
  • It would take 33% of a single parent with children’s median household income to afford this national average price.

This is more than the recommendation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that child care should not cost families more than 7% of their annual income. Notably, each state’s child care landscape is unique and the national average does not fully capture state and local nuances.

Child care prices remain high for families. But CCAoA’s analysis found that while the price of child care continued to rise in 2022, it did not increase as much as in previous years. This rise in child care prices from 2021 to 2022 did not outpace inflation as it did in years past. In fact, inflation outpaced child care increases by 7%. This is most likely due to the uncharacteristic increases in inflation in 2022.

Household Budgets 

Even though child care price increases did not outpace inflation in 2022, the price of child care continues to exceed many family household expenses. According to CCAoA’s analysis:

  • In 41 states plus the District of Columbia, the average annual price of child care for two children in a center exceeds average annual mortgage payments by anywhere from 1% to 53%.
  • In all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, the price of center-based care for two children exceeded average annual rent payments by 24% to over 100%.
  • In 32 states plus the District of Columbia, the average price of child care for an infant in a center exceeded annual, in-state university tuition by less than 1% to over 100%.
  • Child care professionals in a center earn an average of $28,520 per year. In all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, the price of center-based care for two children exceeds the average annual statewide wage for child care professionals by 55% to over 100%.

Regional Child Care Prices 

The average price of care for two children exceeded average housing costs in three of four regions – the Midwest, the Northeast and the South. As we’ve seen in years past, the average price of child care for two children exceeds annual in-state tuition in all four regions.

State Child Care Prices 

Click on your state to see the full price of child care breakdown: 

Calculating National Prices 

CCAoA calculates a national price of child care by using three methodologies and calculating the average.

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The story of child care affordability and supply in 2022 is that investment in child care works.

While child care providers and the families they work with continue to face a myriad of challenges, 2022 showed what can be done with investment and good policy. Every state leveraged federal relief funding, on top of annual federal and state child care funding, to provide grants to child care programs, invest in the compensation of child care professionals, and stabilize the sector overall.

CCAoA’s analysis found that there was modest growth in 2022 among child care centers, returning the overall system to pre-pandemic levels. While those levels fall well short of the overall need for child care, the growth trend must be sustained. The continued decline in FCC homes requires attention, but the relatively slower pace of decline may point to strategies for future success.

At the same time, while child care prices did not outpace the high rate of inflation in 2022, families still struggle to afford child care. In most areas of the country, the price of child care for 2 children is higher than housing and other necessities. Often, the prices families pay also do not cover the true cost providers face to provide high-quality child care, especially for infants and toddlers. Additional investment is needed to fill this gap.

Without continued and increased funding for child care, the positive trends seen in 2022 will not continue – leaving families with fewer options for accessible, affordable and high-quality child care.  

Dig Deeper

Use our Child Care Data Center to explore state- and county-level data about child care affordability, accessibility, health and the impact of COVID-19 on child care supply from six pilot states (Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin).

Want to Do More?

Get involved in the effort to ensure that every family in the U.S. has access to a high-quality, affordable child care system. You can share this information with your network by utilizing content and resources in our social media toolkit. 

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