BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- The cost of child care is the single largest expense for families in almost half of the states in the nation and has been growing steadily, outweighing costs of food and housing.
The cost of infant day care rose by 2.7% and preschool rose by 2.6% from 2011 to last year, according to a report from Child Care Aware of America based on data by the State Child Care Resource and Referral Network and local agencies.
One of the most surprising findings, though: The cost of infant day care now surpasses that of in-state tuition for four-year public colleges in 31 states.
Putting two children into full-time center care is now the largest expense for households in the Northeastern, Midwestern and Southern regions of the country."Child care is an increasingly difficult financial burden for working families to bear," said Lynette M. Fraga, executive director of Child Care Aware of America, in a press release. "Unlike all other areas of education investment, including higher education, families pay the majority of costs for early education. Too many families are finding it impossible to access and afford quality child care that doesn't jeopardize children's safety and healthy development."