How Much Did Households in the United States Pay for Child Care in 2012? An Examination of Differences by Child Age

Key Findings

  • In 2012, 50 percent of infants and toddlers and 63 percent of 3-to-5-year-olds were in regular nonparental care. An additional 10 percent of 3-to-5-year-olds were already in kindergarten.
  • Within every income level, 3-to-5-year-olds were more likely than infants and toddlers to be in regular nonparental care.
  • Among children in regular nonparental care, infants and toddlers were more likely than 3-to-5­-year-olds to only use care provided by an individual, such as a family member, friend, or family child care home.
  • Among children using regular nonparental care, 3-to-5-year-olds were more likely than infants and toddlers to be in center-based care only.
  • Among children using regular nonparental care, about half of infants and toddlers and one-third of 3-to-5-year-olds had no out-of-pocket costs associated with their care. Free care was much more common among households with lower incomes than households with higher incomes. Still, 27 percent of infants and toddlers from higher-income households had no out-of-pocket costs associated with their care.
  • Considering only children whose care had out-of-pocket costs, the median weekly cost of care was about $100 for an infant or toddler, and about $80 for a 3-to-5-year-old.