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Ranked: The Cheapest and Most Expensive States for Child Care


Child care is a necessary expense for many working parents, but it’s one that can significantly impact their wallets. Care costs can vary depending on the type of child care solution chosen, the number of children, and where a family lives. In some states, child care can be more affordable. However, these costs may consume much more of a family‘s household income in other states.

Parents should research local care costs to financially prepare before having kids. Otherwise, they may struggle with the expense and feel more stress later.

Thinking of having children? Here are a few of the cheapest and most expensive states for child care.

The top three most expensive states for daycare

For many parents, daycare is a popular child care solution because it’s more affordable than hiring a nanny to provide one-on-one care. The environment is also excellent for child development because kids can interact with their peers well before heading to school.

Care.com’s 2024 Cost of Care Report examined how much families spend nationwide on child care expenses. Parents were asked to provide details on their spending. Here’s a look at the three most expensive states for daycare costs.

1. Alaska

In Alaska, the average family spends $375 per week on daycare costs for one infant. Care.com study data lists Washington, D.C., as the most expensive part of the country for infant daycare costs, at $419 per week. However, since we’re focusing on states, Alaska tops our list.

2. Massachusetts

Massachusetts is next on our list, with parents here spending almost as much as families in Alaska. In this state, parents spend an average of $372 per week on daycare expenses for one infant.

3. Washington

The average daycare cost in Washington is slightly cheaper than what parents pay in Massachusetts. The average family spends $337 each week on daycare for one infant.

The top three cheapest states for daycare

Daycare is much cheaper in areas with lower living costs. Families can save money on child care expenses by living in these states. According to data from Care.com’s 2024 Cost of Care Report, the following three states have the cheapest daycare costs.

1. Arkansas

Parents in Arkansas are paying an average of $129 per week for daycare for one infant. If a family were to pay for 52 weeks of care, they would spend less than $7,000 annually, which is much more affordable than the most expensive states on our list. Parents in Alaska who pay $375 weekly would pay almost $20,000 yearly for 52 weeks of care for an infant.

2. Louisiana

Average daycare costs in Louisiana are slightly more expensive than Arkansas’s average costs.

Parents living in Arkansas are paying an average of $139 per week for daycare for one infant.

3. Mississippi

The next state on our list is Mississippi. Daycare costs here are very similar to that of Louisiana. On average, families in Mississippi spend $140 per week for daycare for an infant.

Research care costs in advance

Parents and soon-to-be parents can better prepare by researching local care costs before they need to enroll their children. It’s wise to contact nearby child care providers as soon as possible to get on a waitlist. Many of the more affordable solutions have very long waitlists.

If you’re considering having kids, you can prepare in advance by setting aside money in a high-yield savings account. Doing this can make child care costs less daunting when enrolling your child in daycare. Plus, you’ll earn interest while your money sits in the bank.

If you’re looking for ways to reduce your spending to free up more income for savings, consider using one of the best budgeting apps. Tools like this make tracking your spending, setting spending limits, and monitoring your progress throughout the month easier. For additional financial tips, check out our personal finance resources.

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