September 26, 2012

Au pair childcare grows in popularity as day care center costs soar

3 minutes
Childcare options

As if life wasn’t already expensive enough, Child Care Aware® of America (formerly the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies or NACCRRA), just released its annual report earlier this month and concluded: “Quality child care is becoming increasingly difficult to afford for working families.”

Their in-depth investigation revealed that in 36 states (including Washington DC), the average annual cost for daycare coverage for an infant was higher than a year’s in-state tuition and related fees at a four-year public college. In many states, center-based childcare costs for an infant and a 4-year-old exceeded annual mortgage payments. The report also reveals that “Even for families fortunate enough to have jobs, wages have decreased while everyday costs continue to rise. ‘Real earnings’ declined in 2011 by about 1 percent, but the cost of living rose by nearly 3.2 percent during that time, and the cost of infant care in a center increased 2 percent.”

New York, Minnesota, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Indiana and Wisconsin were identified as the least-affordable states for full-time daycare for an infant while New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon, Vermont, Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Indiana, Maine and Rhode Island were listed as the least-affordable states for full-time care for a 4-year old.
Because of these rising day care costs, families are looking for other solutions, and one of these solutions has been the au pair program. Stereotypically thought to be cost-prohibitive, many families are finding au pair childcare to be quite the opposite. Melissa Fredette, Executive Vice President for Cultural Care Au Pair, confirms that the demand for au pair childcare is growing. “We’ve definitely seen an increase in families’ interest in the au pair program over the last year.”

Many Cultural Care families across the country would agree that the program’s affordability, along with the flexibility and quality, make it the best choice for their childcare needs. Amy Pond, a host mom in Denver, CO has hosted four au pairs to care for her twin girls since 2009. She says, “To put my kids in daycare would cost me at least double what I’m paying for an au pair. The same thing goes for a nanny versus an au pair. This type of program works for our lifestyle, too. I love not having to deal with the hassle of drop-off and pick-up from daycare.”

For over a decade now, Andrea Riberi, single mom to 13-year-old Jacob and 11-year-old twins Gabriel and Dustin, has hosted au pairs. The Upper St. Clair, PA resident says, “The au pair program works because I need a significant amount of childcare that varies with my job. For three children, it has been much more cost effective than daycare or nannies. It is also much more convenient to have our au pairs living with us. They feel they are a part of the household and like big sisters to the boys.”

Dana and Walker Lockhart of Seattle have hosted three au pairs since 2009 to care for their 5-year-old sons Oliver and Finlay and brand new baby. “With twin boys in Kindergarten and an infant at home, it was hard to swallow the cost of the double-tuition for after-school care and full-time infant care. It has been a huge relief to know there is a less expensive option. When you factor in the annual program fees, the weekly stipend, and other expenses (education, car insurance, and food), we are still paying at least 30% less then what we would be paying otherwise.”

Parents, how are you keeping your childcare costs in control? (For those who decide to use au pair childcare, Cultural Care Au Pair has more available au pairs than ever before!)