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When child care trumps rent, women must make tough financial choices
According to a paper from the Economic Policy Institute, families in most states spend more on child care than they do on rent. In addition, child care costs more than college in 24 states. - photo by Payton Davis
Families in many states are forking over more money to their babysitters than landlords.

And if you thought the cost of college was pricey, in some places, child care costs soar above that too, according to a research paper from the Economic Policy Institute.

Fortune reported EPI's paper found "that caretaking costs have become so exorbitant that in most parts of the U.S., families spend more on child care than they do on rent" that includes babysitting, nannies and out-of-home day care centers.

Although the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises that affordable child care shouldn't account for more than 10 percent of a family's budget, Fortune noted costs in that area can "eat up" more than 30 percent. Considering child care costs have risen 168 percent over the last 25 years and that the average amount spent yearly is $18,000, the expense forces parents to make career decisions, switching jobs or leaving the workforce.

For women, a full-time job is even a poor economic decision taking into account the cost of child care, according to Slate.

These mothers have to consider tough financial choices: Working during their children's early years might not make sense with soaring babysitting costs, but if mothers hope to work again eventually, a woman's earnings decrease 10 percent by every two years she doesn't work, Slate reported.

Making income inequality a "system" rather than trend, EPI's findings extend well beyond the home.

"Expensive child care doesn't just keep women out of the workforce and hamper their autonomy it sets off a ripple effect that sustains a system of income inequality, making both child-rearing and working outside the home privileges of the rich," Slate's piece read.

EPI's researchers wrote because child care consumes a bigger portion of family budgets, "funding high-quality child care services should be a paramount concern for governments, business leaders and families alike."

Presidential hopefuls are touting solutions, according to The Washington Post.

The Post reported Hillary Clinton has called for more government money to fund public child care programs, and Sen. Bernie Sanders supports universal preschools and paid family leave. To the right, Marco Rubio proposed a tax break for companies that give employees paid leave.

CBS News cited another interesting finding in the EPI's paper: In 33 states and the District of Columbia, child care costs more than college tuition.

Young parents focus on "the cost of sending their children to college, but many may not be prepared for the financial stress of five years of providing care before their child enrolls in kindergarten," according to CBS News. Unlike planning for college, families don't have 18 years to plan for infant care.

The Huffington Post noted young children reap numerous benefits from "high-quality early childhood care and education," making finding a solution more crucial.

Patricia Cole, director of government relations for Zero to Three, told The Huffington Post that day care "is not just a place where children can go so parents can work, but it is important for the brain development of children."

"Infancy and early childhood are when brain development is most rapid," Cole said.
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