Zola Sturtz sends his kid to day care three times a week instead of five. During the other two days of the work week, his wife Angela cares for their child from home.
Sturtz, a Columbia parent, said high costs make it difficult to afford local child care services.
In Boone County, child care costs more for families than in a handful of surrounding counties, according to a county supply report by Child Care Aware of Missouri, a nonprofit that collects data on child care costs.
The average annual income for households in Boone County is about $58,740. Nearly 19% of Boone County families’ annual income is spent paying for day care.
About 18% of Randolph County’s annual average income is spent on child care. In Callaway County, that number comes to 13%.
Child care prices in Boone County are slightly higher than they are in Jackson County. Greene County is more expensive than Boone County, and St. Louis County is fairly comparable.
Robin Phillips, CEO of Child Care Aware of Missouri, said the national average percentage of annual income going toward child care is 17-25%.
“It’s always been equivalent to university tuition or someone’s mortgage payment, it’s just incredibly high,” Phillips said.
Local families sending infants or toddlers off to day care pay an average of $254 weekly. Preschool children sent to day care cost an average of $209 per week. Kindergarten and school-age children cost the lowest at $105 weekly.
End of the Rainbow Childcare Center in Columbia determines how much it charges families for day care based on the amount it costs to pay its employees, provide three meals for children at the center and for insurance.
Amanda Tullock, the infant director at End of the Rainbow, said costs are calculated similarly across Columbia.
Affording day care can be an especially difficult task for younger parents with young children, Phillips said. These parents often make less money than older families, she added.
“Young families typically are the ones with younger children in child care, and they are not at the maximum earning potential,” Phillips said.
Amanda Rainey, a mother of two and the owner of Goldie’s Bagels, said she is thankful she only has to send one kid to day care right now; her other child is in school.
“If we had to send both of our kids at the same time, yeah, that would’ve been a squeeze,” she said.