How much is child care in Raleigh/Wake County?

So you survived the hospital costs involved with delivery.  You have even paid for that designer diaper bag and stroller to match.  Paying for diapers and milk, no biggie right? Whoever said that raising children will cost over $1 million dollars must have been talking about celebrity babies right?  Well congratulations on getting your child from newborn stage to toddler stage, now your reward comes in the form of monthly child care expenses.  This is where your cost begin to grow.  This is what I call “big boy/girl parenting”.  And if you are fortunate enough to have grandparents or relatives that watch your children for you, with no expectation of compensation I have a great article for you here.

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Preschool image by Frauenfelder.

In many ways in Raleigh with child care you get what you pay for.  I am not saying there is a direct correlation between child care service/teachers and the amount of money you pay but I am saying that the best child cares usually have waiting list and demand premiums for their services. The cost for child care in Raleigh can vary vastly.

Parents are often shocked that in Raleigh certain child cares and preschools charge nearly $1200 a month for full time care.  $1200 you say?  What kind of Return On Investment do you get for $1200 a month?  Are your kids guaranteed acceptance into the most rigorous elementary programs?  I can not say for sure, but I do know that without that expense I could pay for two luxury cars.

Also comes the star rating system.  The first person to explain that to me will receive my undying gratitude.  You would think that on a 5 star basis, sending your child to a 2 star would be only for the crazy.  But as explained to me by the state, stars are awarded for various areas and does not necessarily show that one school is better than another.  This gets even more confusing when not all schools use the rating system.

One star means that a child care facility meets North Carolina’s minimum standards.  Two to five stars means that an operator has chosen to apply for more stars.  In order to be awarded two to five stars, an operator agrees to have the program evaluated using a rating scale that measures quality.  Stars are awarded based on a child care facility’s score in two areas:  Staff Education and Program Standards.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports child care costs in Wake County as follows (as of 2007):

Lowest Average:  $446 |  Highest Average: $894.

See the Full Chart with all the counties in the state.  Remember these are two year old averages.  Your price will probably vary.  As a parent I have seen child care costs well past $1000 per month for full time care.  If you know of a great child care at a fair price, list it in the comments.

Child Care Assistance in North Carolina

According to the News and Observer:

Almost 95,000 children per month receive child care assistance in North Carolina, and 85 percent percent of the families receiving subsidy earn less than $25,000 per year. In Wake County more than 21,000 children are eligible for child care assistance, yet only approximately 6,000 children are actually receiving it — leaving over 70 percent of eligible children without any help because the program is severely underfunded.

Children from low-income families depend on subsidies to ensure that they have access to high-quality child care while their parents work, and with our state facing a large budget shortfall in fiscal year 2009-2010, that number is likely to grow.

Investing in high-quality early care and education is a sound economic stimulus strategy for North Carolina. Instead of making funding cuts to child care subsidies, the state needs to invest even more in subsidy programs, Smart Start and More at Four.

Good video regarding the basics of child care costs.

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