From the Baltimore Sun:
Yet early childhood education in the United States receives the least public investment of any schooling, leaving parents to bear much of the financial burden.
The average cost of full-time infant care at a Baltimore center, as opposed to a home-based site, is about $11,560, according to data from the Maryland Family Network, a private nonprofit that advocates for children and families.
That figure, which factors in the highest- and lowest-quality care options, is 40 percent higher than the average cost of tuition and fees at a state university — $8,220 in 2012. And it’s roughly 30 percent of the median household income in the city before taxes.
“It’s a real struggle for most parents,” said Steve Rohde, the network’s deputy director of child care resource and referral services.
The state’s poorest families receive some help through care vouchers, but not enough, Rohde said.
Maryland’s Child Care Subsidy Program has recently been released from a freeze that saw the number of children served drop through attrition to 16,500 in January from 26,000 in early 2011.
Funding problems have meant that many people who should be eligible for the program aren’t, and those who are eligible are relegated “to the cheapest and, in many cases, the lowest quality care in their communities,” according to Maryland Family Network testimony submitted last month to the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Children, Youth and Families.
And the subsidized families are still paying an average of nearly 15 percent of their already stretched household incomes in co-pays, according to the Maryland Family Network.
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