Let’s Talk SF Child Care Costs aka Remember When We Used To Have Money?

Thursday September 29, 2016

Dave and I thought we were prepared for the reality of San Francisco preschool costs. Then we started actually shopping around. One afternoon, we walked past a quaint stone church in our neighborhood, that had a small sign about enrolling in their preschool program for next fall. Aha! Church basement preschools! Just like the ones our families went to as kids!

A friend beat us to it, and reported that tuition was $1400 for 3 mornings/week.

Not exactly the church basement preschool prices we had in mind.

Friend after friend has had to come to terms with how much childcare costs in San Francisco. We’ve long joked that we’re paying more for daycare and preschool than we did for undergrad. Lo and behold, we may actually be onto something.

Yesterday, New America published a report finding nearly exactly that: child care costs now exceed in-state college tuition in most states. They even included an interactive map so you can check on your own state.

Nationally, the average cost of full-time child care is $9,589 per year; in-state college tuition averages out to $9,410.

Now, I assume that California is more expensive than the national average, on both counts, so let’s dig deeper to see how we’re faring.

In New America’s report, the average yearly cost of full-time child care in California is $11,479 for child care centers and $30,184 for in-home care. In-state college tuition varies between the UC schools and the Cal State schools — UC schools charge $13,500 per year. Cal State schools range from $6,299 (Cal State Fresno) to $7,388 (Sonoma State). So, child care is quite a bit more expensive than Cal State, and slightly less expensive than the UC schools.

But, how about San Francisco? This beautiful city of ours that’s slowly bleeding us all dry?

The Children’s Council San Francisco estimates the average cost of infant care at a child care center is $22,800 per year; preschool is $18,000 per year. They also include “family child care homes” which are less expensive: $16,800 per year for infants and $14,400 per year for preschoolers. (To satiate your nosey curiosity, nannies average $39,490 per year for one child and $43,646 for two.)

SIGHS, right? That’s a lot of money. Personally, I look forward to the day that Bean gets into Berkeley so we can save roughly $9,000/ year.

(I have questions though about their methodology for preschool tuition, though, since many preschools aren’t full-time.)

When you further look at median incomes in California and San Francisco, you start to see how truly exorbitant these child care costs are. The median income in California is $63,566; the median income for San Francisco is slightly higher at $84,160 (the median ranges wildy by zipcode). This means that, on average, if your kid goes to daycare in California, 18% of your pre-tax income goes to child care. In San Francisco, on average, 22-27% of pre-tax income goes to preschool or infant care at a center, respectively. How does anyone afford this?

Well, so where do we stand with all of this. Last week, we talked about how employer-insured California mothers averaged $15,000-$21,000 in child birth costs. Now, it seems those mothers have to pay an additional $11,479 per year (or $22,800 in SF) in child care costs. This is before we even get to the statewide housing crisis.

It is no surprise, really, that our friends with kids keep leaving not only the city, but the state. The question is, does our state or local government care at all to do anything about it?



More reading:

Poppies and trail dust

What a mother on maternity leave does all day: a pie chart

Our favorite books about Autumn

4 Responses to “Let’s Talk SF Child Care Costs aka Remember When We Used To Have Money?”

  1. This is so depressing!


    9/30/2016 at 7:28 am

  2. HA! Yes it is! I hope this is better where you live, but I think it’s a nationwide problem?


    9/30/2016 at 9:12 am

  3. This post is genius! I love that you compared it to the cost of college and cannot believe that freaking preschool is anywhere close to the cost of college. Just goes to show how out of whack all of this is.


    9/30/2016 at 9:27 am

  4. The costs are truly a shock to the system. And all those estimates were only based on one kid!


    9/30/2016 at 10:39 am