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March 26 2019

Two Truths and A Lie: Childcare Costs

by Carrie L. Lukas

Everyone loves the party game “Two Truths and a Lie,” where among three statements, you have to guess which one is false.

Can you guess which of these 3 statements about childcare in the U.S. is not true?

  1. Daycare is many families’ biggest expense.  
  2. Most children under age 5 are in an organized daycare facility.
  3. Eliminating daycare regulations that aren’t effective at improving the quality of care could significantly reduce daycare costs.

Let’s see how you did!

1. TRUTH! For many families, childcare is their biggest household expense.  According to ChildCare Aware, the cost of care for two children at a daycare center in the Midwest and North East costs more than housing ($20,605 and $24,815 respectively) and in the West and South, daycare comes in a close second to housing (costing $20,960 and $17,193).

2. LIE! According to the Census Bureau, only about a third of children under age 5 are regularly cared for by someone other than a relative, and only about a quarter are in an organized daycare facility. 

3. TRUTH! Researchers for the Mercatus Center found: “an increase in the child–staff ratio requirement for infants by one infant is associated with a decrease in the cost of child care of between 9 and 20 percent across all models, which would reduce the annual cost of child care by between $850 and $1,890 per child across all states, on average.” Child-staff ratios, like many other regulations, are not associated with improved quality of care.  Policymakers should reduce regulations like these to help working parents!

As Americans consider various proposals to help working families, we need to have all the facts. The best proposals will aim to offer all families the greatest degree of choice in their care, to reduce costs without reducing quality, and to avoid interfering with this very personal choice for families. Read this policy focus or watch this video to learn more:



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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