A report from the USDA tracked the costs associated with raising children in 2015 based on the child's age, region, household income and budgetary component.
The report, which uses data from the 2015 Consumer Expenditures Survey shows that married, middle-income parents will spend about $233,610 raising a child born in 2015 – not accounting for inflation. Those expenses include the basics, like food and shelter, and not the cost of a college education.
The costs of child-rearing vary, depending on the region. Families in the Northeast will spend more, about $264,090. Parents in rural regions will spend about $193,020.
Expenses only increase as the child ages, with most costs being attributed to basic necessities, such as housing (29% of overall costs) and child care (16%).
A separate report from Child Care of America (CCA), which combines its own data with figures from the Department of Labor Statistics, highlights the rising cost of child care.
The CCA report shows that housing and child care are the largest household expenses, which contradicts the USDA's report. The USDA puts housing as the biggest cost at 29% and food at the second-biggest cost (18%).
While costs vary depending on the region, the CCA says housing and child care are twice the cost of transportation, and food is five times the cost of health care and utilities.
The benchmark for affordable childcare, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, is 10% of the family's income. The CCA report shows that child care costs were below this benchmark in just ten states: North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama and Tennessee.
Because childcare costs are independent of a family's income, cost increases have adverse effects on low-income families and single parents.
With more dads winning custody battles in divorces, the number of single fathers will only continue to increase. Like single mothers, single dads have a difficult time handling childcare, as affordable options are often far and few between. Many have no choice but to rely on relatives, friends and other forms of unlicensed childcare.
For dads who took on the role of stay-at-home father prior to divorce or a change in family dynamic may also face challenges finding suitable childcare and returning to the workforce.
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