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ANNUAL INFANT CARE COSTS
Forget saving for college for your newborn, day care will be more expensive

 According to a new study, putting your child in day care may be more expensive than college tuition.
DAVE ELLIS/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 9/6/2012

BY CATHY JETT

Think the cost of in-state college tuition for your little bundle of joy will be high?

Putting little Jane or Johnnie in day care can be even more expensive.

That's the finding of a new study by Child Care Aware of America, a child-care research and advocacy group based in Arlington. It used data provided by State Child Care Resource and Referral Network offices and local agencies.

"From community to community, the high cost of child care is a struggle for most families, not just families with low incomes," the report said.

Last year, the average cost of full-time child care for an infant--the most expensive because of the higher level of care required--at a day care center ranged from about $4,600 in Mississippi to nearly $15,000 in Massachusetts, according to the Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2012 Report.

Virginia ranked 28th with an annual average cost of $10,670. Currently, the tuition for a semester for an in-state student at the University of Mary Washington's Fredericksburg campus is $4,623, or $9,246 for a year. At Germanna Community College, tuition for a 16-credit course load is $2,132 per semester, or $4,264 for a year.

Locally, the highest average rate was in the city of Fredericksburg. It was $208 a week, or $10,816 for a year, according to the nonprofit The Childcare Network's office in Fredericksburg. The lowest average rate in the area was $141 a week, or $7,332 per year, in Orange, Culpeper and Madison counties.

Stafford and Spotsylvania counties' average rates fell in between. The average weekly rate for full-time child care for an infant in Stafford was $198, or $10,296 for a year. In Spotsylvania, it was $184 a week or $9,568 for a year.

Child care run out of a home, the most common form in the nation, is less expensive. Last year, the average annual cost of care for an infant in a family child care home ranged from about $4,500 in South Carolina to nearly $10,400 in New York.


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Parents can search for day care providers on The Childcare Network's website, thechildcarenetwork .org. Regina Maloney, director of the group's Fredericksburg office, said that while there appears to be an adequate supply of day care locally, all are not created equal.

"Is it really good child care or is it just there?" she said. "Nationally, about one-third is really high quality, one-fourth to one-third is not good and the rest are in the middle."

She recommends checking inspection reports on the network's website for any licensed facilities that parents are considering, and finding out who their child's teachers will be.

"I've always told parents that the No. 1 consideration is the person that is taking care of your child day-to-day, not the building."

Locality

Day care center

In-home day care

Fredericksburg

$10,816

$6,760

Spotsylvania

$9,568

$6,760

Stafford

$10,296

$8,320

*Caroline

$9,360

$6,136

**Culpeper

$7,332

$6,656

*King George

$9,360

$6,136

Louisa

N/A

$4,992

**Orange

$7,332

$6,656

Westmoreland

N/A

$5,408

Virginia

$10,670

$8,622

* The Childcare Network averaged Caroline's and King George's statistics together.

** Orange, Culpeper and Madison's statistics also were averaged together.