Childcare for infants in New Hampshire is the 12th most expensive in the nation, according to a new report from a group calling for broad reform on childcare affordability across the country.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, a D.C.-based think tank, the average cost for a year of infant care in New Hampshire is just under $12,000. Care for four-year-olds can average around $9,500.
Childcare costs, the report argues, can take a significant chunk out of a family’s budget in New Hampshire — especially for low-wage workers.
New Hampshire families in the middle of the income bracket would have to spend about 14 percent of their income on infant care for a single child, according to the report. A worker making only the minimum wage would have to spend about 78 percent of their income.
By the federal government’s existing standards, childcare is considered “affordable” if it costs 10 percent or less of a family’s income.
The report also notes that those providing care face economic challenges of their own. Here, the median salary is $21,310, and at that level a childcare worker would have to spend more than half of his or her income on care for an infant, according to the report.
These findings echo earlier research done by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire and concerns raised by other advocacy groups about a "preschool poverty gap" in the Granite State.
Last year, one Carsey School researcher told NHPR that childcare affordability is a significant issue for low-income families here — but those families often find themselves juggling irregular work schedules, leaving them to rely on family members or friends instead of trained early-childhood professionals.
Earlier this year, a group of New Hampshire lawmakers introduced a proposal that would have set up a new state property tax refund to help offset the costs of childcare expenses. The bill didn’t make it past the Senate and was referred for further study.