Child Care More Expensive Than College In Most States

It’s something parents all over the Inland Northwest have felt for years and now the data proves it: the average cost of daycare now exceeds in-state college tuition in 31 states, including Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.

The report from Child Care Aware shows daycare is roughly $1,000-$5,000 a year more expensive than college in the four above-listed states. The rising cost of daycare is why Shawna Brogan of Medical Lake is now a stay-at-home mom.

“The childcare was $2400 a month,” the mother of four told KHQ’s Kelsey Watts. “Do the math, it makes no sense for me to go to work.”

Brogan made good money working for the state and her husband works full time at Fairchild Air Force Base, but it still wasn’t enough to outweigh the cost of childcare for their children, ages 7, 5, 3, and 2.

“That’s kind of the struggle that’s been around for years and years,” said Department of Early Learning Spokesperson Amy Blondin said. “We have resources to help very low-income families who are working toward self sufficiency, and then your higher-income families are okay –

although it’s a burden on them as well, these high costs for care –,but it’s really that middle range of folks who are priced out of some of the child care options.”

While Brogan readily acknowledges it was their choice to have a large family, paying for daycare is an issue for many single-child families as well.

Child Care Aware reports the average cost of care for a single infant in Washington is more than $1,000 every month; more than rent or a mortgage payment for many families. Making matters worse, Child Care Aware of Eastern Washington says rates in Spokane are actually cheaper than in more-populated areas, like King County, for example.

They say locally, child care centers charge an average monthly rate of $806 for an infant, $650 for a toddler, $620 for a preschooler and $433 for a school-age child. A family-based child care center is a little cheaper at an average of $650, $607, $542 and $468, respectively.

“It infuriates me actually, it really makes me mad, I just don’t think it’s right,” Brogan added. “I don’t know how long it will be before I can ever go back to work, and by then it will be so long who is going to want me? I’ll have to start back at the bottom again.”

“It’s really a conversation that’s happening at the national level as well: how do we make sure that child care is high-quality but is also something that every family can access and afford?” Blondin added. “There’s no magic answer for that yet, but it is something people and policy-makers have been struggling with for years.”

The good news for low-income families is state subsidies are available to help. To learn more and see if you qualify, visit

To learn about assistance provided through Working Connections Child Care, visit

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