Friday, April 5, 2013

Utah child care getting harder to find, more costly

A report released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau says more Americans are similarly being creative as day care costs —even when adjusted for inflation — have nearly doubled in the past 25 years.

In constant 2011 dollars, it said families with an employed mother and children younger than 15 paid an average of $143 a week for child care in 2011, up from $84 in 1985.

The report, "Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2011," says that is a big issue because during a typical week in spring 2011, 61 percent of all children under age 5 were in some type of regular child care arrangement.

The national study notes that families that do spend money on child care paid about 7 percent of their income on it in both 1985 and 2011 — but fewer now are paying for it. The percentage of families paying for child care declined from 42 percent to 32 percent between 1997 and 2011.

A series of tables released with the report indicates Utah is going against the national trend when it comes to availability of paid child care options outside the home.

The number of child care facilities declined from 34.5 per 1,000 Utah children in 1997 to 23.1 per 1,000 in 2007. That is a contrast to the national picture, in which child care facilities grew from 28.8 per 1,000 children in 1997 to 37.1 a decade later.

Utah ranked fifth lowest among the states in 2007 for the number of day care facilities available, ahead of only Hawaii (15.6 per 1,000 children), Nevada (17.4), South Carolina (21.4) and Arizona (22.2).

The study said that in the face of higher costs nationally, more families are moving toward using grandparents and fathers for child care.

The report said self-care is more common among children in junior high than elementary school. Five percent of children ages 5 to 11 (1.3 million) and 27 percent of children age 12 to 14 (2.9 million) regularly cared for themselves. Salt Lake Tribune

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