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High Cost of Raising Kids: Thousands More on LI for Child Care

Photo: Children at Five Towns Early Learning Center on Long Island where "Pepper" Robinson says many middle-income working parents are priced out of regulated child care. Credit: ELC Staff
Photo: Children at Five Towns Early Learning Center on Long Island where "Pepper" Robinson says many middle-income working parents are priced out of regulated child care. Credit: ELC Staff
August 20, 2013

NEW YORK - It will cost middle-income families nearly a quarter of a million dollars to raise a child, according to the latest report from the USDA , and when it comes to child care on Long Island, working families are paying thousands more a year than most families around the country.

Nationwide, the report says, families are spending about $10,600 a year for child care, but that won't cut it on Long Island, according to "Pepper" Robinson at the Five Towns Early Learning Center. She said the market rate for child care on Long Island is closer to $15,000 a year, leaving many working parents out of luck.

"So that middle group that makes between $30,000 - and you know, when can you afford it, if you make $100,000 can you afford $15,000? I don't know, but that working middle class is just left to fend for themselves."

Janet Walerstein, executive director of the Child Care Council of Suffolk, said the lack of assistance for working families not only puts children at risk, when they are forced into unregulated care, but it also puts Long Island at risk of losing valuable working parents.

"Which is the mainstay of the economy, I mean, it's the support services, it's the receptionist, the secretaries, the line workers, who need that support."

The report said that nationwide the cost to raise a child jumped 3 percent in just one year, and Robinson said policy makers need to make assistance for child care a priority.

"Honestly? We need to value zero to five as much as we value the elementary-school years, we need to value it; and we need to provide care for all parents. "

Robinson said she appreciates the fact that President Obama has spoken out in support of early education, but so far she has yet to see any real boost in local funding.

The full report is at blogs.usda.gov.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY