County by County Blog

Project updates, commentaries, events and news about health across the nation from the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps team.

Measuring the burden of child care costs

Publication date
September 7, 2022

The high cost of child care has forced many American families to make impossible trade-offs between paying for their children’s care or other necessities such as food, safe housing and health care. On average, families with two children pay a quarter of their income toward child care, driving some out of the workforce altogether.   

To help communities better understand the burden, County Health Rankings & Roadmaps has released a new measure, Child Care Cost Burden, which captures child care costs for a household with two children as a percent of median household income in the county.  

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ benchmark suggests child care is unaffordable if it exceeds 7% of a household’s income. CHR&R data show that child care costs are higher than the federal threshold in every county across the country with available data.  

Having access to high-quality child care allows caregivers opportunities to secure education and paid work. Research has shown it also contributes to children’s health and development and can provide life-long benefits, especially for children from low-income or socially marginalized households.  

Communities with quality child care options also benefit as more residents gain employment, increase their earnings and improve their children’s health and academic achievements. 

View the video to learn more about the measure. Find a county’s value and discover strategies that could reduce families’ burden, including subsidies and publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs. Share the video with your partners and contact us for more information about how to use this measure in community health work.

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