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A mother-of-four has revealed how she was forced to spend $5,000 a month on childcare fees last year because she wants to stay in the workforce.

Paige Turner, 33, who lives in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, said the payments – which amounted to $60,000 for the year – were worth double what she pays on her mortgage. 

And she is far from alone. Accordings to figures from the charity The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the average annual cost of center-based childcare for toddlers in Massachusetts is $19,961. 

While the state is one of the more expensive for bringing up kids, increased demand and a shortage of workers mean prices are soaring across the country – with childcare by far the biggest expenditure for millions of parents. 

A study by consumer banking company NetCredit earlier this year found childcare is now more expensive than public college tuition in 28 states.

Paige’s two oldest kids, who are aged six and five, are now in the public school system.

The six-year-old has moved into first grade, and the five-year-old has moved from Pre-K childcare – which cost $1,300 a month last year – into kindergarten. 

While this means the family’s childcare expenses have dropped, Paige still predicts the overall cost this year will be around $50,000. 

Paige is head of operations for a retail start-up, while her husband works as a utility lineman. He is an essential worker and is often called for storm duty – whereas she is able to work from home. 

Both earn the same amount a year – around $150,000.

‘People assume that I should care for the children because I’m a woman,’ she said. ‘People also assume that I make less money than my husband and have less earnings potential than him – and so I should be the one to stay home. 

‘My husband and I earn the exact same amount, and I may be out-earning him this year. My career has, in a way, more earning potential than my husband’s does, so I want to stay in the workforce.’

Paige added that another push back she often gives to that question is that she enjoys working – and has worked hard for a long time to get where she is in her career.  

‘Leaving the workforce – even for a short time – has a huge impact on a woman’s career and her earning potential,’ she said. 

Currently she is struggling to find at a daycare for her youngest child, who is 18 months old, because centers are simply too full in their local community. 

‘We have an au pair who watches our youngest child because she cannot get into daycare. She’s on a waitlist because it’s so full,’ she told DailyMail.com. 

‘I tried to get her in almost a year ago when she was about six months old. They told me she could not get in until April 2024 – so almost a year and a half later. 

‘If you are not getting on the waitlist the second you find out you’re pregnant, your infant will not have a space in daycare.’

To make matters worse, parents are forced to pay a fee to join the waitlist for some centers. 

‘It depends on the center, but I have paid $200 to be on a waitlist. So if you’re on multiple wait lists, you’re shelling out a decent amount of money,’ she said.

The family pay around $2,000 a month for the au pair – who cares for the youngest and provides after school care for the oldest – and up to $1,500 for full-time preschool for their toddler, who will be turning three in a few weeks time. 

In Massachusetts, Paige said, families pay an agency fee between $8,000 and $10,000 for an au pair – and then an hourly rate. 

With added living costs including food and car insurance for their au pair, Paige estimates their overall childcare costs will hit $50,000 this year. 

Paige said she often faces questions about whether she will quit work in order to cut down on some of these fees. 

Paige said she is unable to find a space at a daycare for her youngest child, who is 18 months old, because centers are simply too full in their local community

Millions of Americans – mostly women – struggle with the financial breaking point of childcare.

According to Census data, around 4.5 million people remained unemployed in January this year because they were caring for children not in school or daycare.

In the first month of this year, there were 217,000 fewer women in the labor force than in February 2020.

Experts warn that the crisis could worsen – after the Government pulled the plug on pandemic-era aid at the end of last month

Estimates by The Century Foundation (TCF) suggested in September that as many as 70,000 childcare programs were in danger of closing – bringing the already-strained sector to a cliff edge. 

In March 2021, President Biden signed off the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act which ringfenced $24 billion to support childcare centers.  

Many used the money to increase wages for staff to avoid them seeking better-paid jobs – and it is thought to have helped more than 200,000 providers stay afloat during the pandemic.

Mother-of-three and licensed attorney Crystal Gamache, pictured, was unable to find anywhere to take her children part-time in Spokane, Washington

But researchers at the TCF said the deadline represented a ‘cliff-edge’ which would see 3.2 million children with no place to go while their parents work.

Julie Kashen, TCF’s director for women’s economic justice said: ‘As childcare programs are forced to raise prices to retain staff, parents will either have to pay even more for childcare, cut back hours at work or be forced to leave their jobs entirely.

‘We know the responsibilities will mostly fall on women and will not only hurt their lifetime earnings and retirement security but also their families’ bottom lines.’

Mother-of-three and licensed attorney Crystal Gamache told DailyMail.com last month that she was unable to find anywhere to take her children when she sought part-time care in Spokane, Washington. 

The 34-year-old said in the past she relied on the help of babysitters but ended up effectively paying to go to work as her childcare costs were higher than her wage.

She told DailyMail.com: ‘Women who train to be doctors and attorneys often meet their husbands when studying and they end up in the same high tax brackets.

‘It means these women can afford not to work and fall out of the workplace. But we lose our most brilliant female workers this way.’

Content source – www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com

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