Affordable Child Care

Too many Wisconsin families are struggling to find reliable, affordable child care. The average annual cost of infant care in Wisconsin is over $11,000, and only 21 percent of families in the Badger State are able to afford it. For toddlers, the numbers are not much better: only 30 percent of families are able to afford it. More than half of Americans live in areas where licensed child care is difficult to find. The problem is especially serious in rural areas.

Hardworking families need access to affordable, high-quality child care. Decades of research show that child development during the first few years of life is critical to their long-term success and happiness. 

“Affordable childcare is important to me” - Felicity

Wisconsin Child Care Costs

Infant Care Toddler Care (4 years old)
Share of families able to afford care 21.4% 29.8%
Annual care cost $11,579 $9,469
Income necessary to afford care $115,790 $94,690
Total number of families 1,485,877 1,485,877
Number of families unable to afford care 1,168,488 1,042,753

Note: Child care is considered affordable if it consumes 10 percent or less of a family’s income

Source: Analysis of CCAA and U.S. Census Bureau data by the Economic Policy Institute

When child care is available, it is often too expensive. Too many families are forced to choose between the cheapest child care available – putting their children at risk – and leaving the workforce altogether. Families in poverty are especially hard-hit by child care costs, when they can afford them at all, spending nearly ¼ of their income on it. 

Child care reform means more income and security for working parents

Investing more in child care policy will lead to more options and economic security for working parents. Expanding child care nationally could lead to 2.3 million new jobs between reducing under-employment among working parents, and creating new jobs in child care and early education. This type of broad reform could lift 1 million or more families out of poverty from increased earnings and reduced child care costs. This is in addition to the benefits to children from greater investment in their early development and education.

“I have three kids and I believe in raising healthy, happy, successful kids.” -Ally

It’s time for reform in Wisconsin

Hardworking families are stuck. They don’t have affordable, quality options for child care. Families are forced to rely on relatives or informal child care options that don’t give them the flexibility they need to keep working. The financial and emotional costs of maintaining child care without a reliable and affordable network of providers is putting unconscionable stress on many families already living paycheck-to-paycheck. 

It’s time for Wisconsin to support hardworking families by providing affordable, quality child care options for everyone. 


  • Analysis of CCAA and U.S. Census Bureau data, Economic Policy Institute (2014).
  • Rethinking U.S. Child Care Policy, Issues in Science and Technology, David Blau (2002).

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