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Child Care Costs Rise as Economy Tanks

Child Care Costs Rise as Economy Tanks

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Published by Bill Young
Article describes the enormous strain rampant child care costs are putting on families, especially cash strapped single parents. Is this you?
Article describes the enormous strain rampant child care costs are putting on families, especially cash strapped single parents. Is this you?

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Published by: Bill Young on Apr 08, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Child care costs rise as economy tanks



Nadia Molinari and her one-year daughter lyalh Birmingham. Nadia Molinari knew she would have to return to work eight weeks after her daughter was born, but she never imagined she would be paying more for child care than rent. "There are weeks where I pay day care, put money toward rent and there's like $25 left over," said Molinari, 28. "I have a college degree. Why am I struggling so hard?" As the economy goes south, child-care costs are projected to heap an even bigger burden on working families. Market rates for infant center day care have risen by 38% to about $19,200 in the past four years, state figures show.

Molinari pays $622 a month for a studio apartment in East New York, Brooklyn, $300 in college loans and $700 for day care for her 1-year-old daughter, Iylah Birmingham. She takes home $500 a week as a procurement analyst for the city Education Department. Although she has had the job since December 2007, Molinari is considered a temp because of a hiring freeze. She says she skips lunch so she can pack a good one for Iylah and make a healthful dinner.

"I was raised by a single mom who struggled to make ends meet, but me and my sister never knew that," she said. "I want better for my daughter, but I feel like I'm not giving her everything she deserves." Molinari is among tens of thousands of city residents who qualify for a break on child-care costs but aren't getting any help. She is No. 32,909 on the city's voucher waiting list. An Administration for Children's Services spokeswoman acknowledged the agency is able to fund only onethird of the families who qualify. Federal and state aid has dropped by $50 million since 2004. "When the city was flush, they plugged the holes with a one-time fix," said Betty Holcomb, policy director at Child Care, Inc. "We think things are only going to get worse in the years ahead." Families who don't qualify for city subsidies can face an equally difficult burden. The income cutoff for a family of four is $47,700. A couple with two young children making about $52,000 can expect to pay more than $23,000 a year in child-care costs, close to half their income. Most families look for cheaper alternatives, cobbling together a network of relatives or home-based day care providers. That can be a burden on family members and can affect the quality and consistency of care their children receive. Mercedes Moreno is a financial education trainer in Manhattan; her husband, Mark, is an accountant. Together, they make about $95,000, but they can afford care for only one of their sons, 2-year-old Timo. Mortgage payments of $3,000 per month for their Queens Village home, plus transportation and food costs, eat up much of their income. Moreno said she found a place she loved that could take both of her children, but at $2,000 a month it was too expensive. Instead, her mother, an unemployed factory worker, halted her job search to take care of Moreno's 4-monthold child, Thaniel. "It's not fair to her," said Moreno, 30. "I can't afford to pay her. She has bills. It should be easier for working parents."

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