If you hope to send your kids to college someday, you know how important it is to start saving early, but when do you start saving for day care?
A new study by Child Care Aware of America says a year of child care on average costs more than in-state tuition at a state university. California is the 7th highest in the nation for childcare costs.
At Child Haven Day Care in Bakersfield Thursday, kids were busy at work putting their finishing touches on their art projects. It's just one of the fun activities that helps kids learn about things like colors and the importance of sharing.
But it isn't cheap.
"Our tuition runs $560 a month for full time care, however we have rates for part-time, anywhere from two days a week to five days a week to help parents out," said Myetta Beavers, Director of Child Haven.
That price is low for day care in Kern County.
According to the Community Connection for Child Care, a month of service averages between $550 and $950 a month.
That's $6,500 to more than $11,000 per year.
And compare that to the cost of in-state tuition at CSUB which averages about $6,600 a year.
"Child care has always been high cost for families. I use to advise young families that they can expect day care for two preschoolers to cost almost as much as their mortgage," said Lisa Duncan-Purcell, Program Director of Community Connection for Child Care.
One of the biggest reasons for that cost is a state requirement.
The ratio of teachers to kids must be no more than 8 to 1 for kids older than two and four to one for infants.
"You're paying the salary of a staff member for four students. So that can get very costly," Beavers said.
At Child Haven, salary is at least 45% of its budget, leaving rent, utilities, food and licensing that still need to be paid.
"We've had to sacrifice a lot of different things but we've been able to remain and keep our doors open," Beavers said.
But cutting child care costs is harder than it seems.
Child care officials say increasing class sizes or lowering state standards are both harmful to young children.
"California state standards are right now are very minimal. Health and safety only, very basic. There's nothing superfulous about what licensing requires of family child care homes or child care centers," Duncan-Purcell said.
For more information about day cares and resources, click here.http://www.daycarecenterssite.com/