More moms staying at home as child care costs rise - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

More moms staying at home as child care costs rise

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MADISON (WKOW) -- More moms are staying at home because the cost of daycare is skyrocketing.

A report released this week by the Pew Research Center finds 29 percent of mothers in 2012 chose to stay at home after having children. One likely reason for that is the rising cost of childcare in the U.S., up more than 70 percent since 1985.

Madison mom Courtney Redepenning is one of those mothers. About three years ago she decided to quit her work as a hairdresser when her family moved to Madison for her husband's job. She and her husband found it was the only affordable option for the family.

"Pretty much what I would make would go entirely to paying for childcare, there would maybe be a little left over, but it wouldn't be enough to make it worth us both working," Redepenning tells 27 News.

Pew finds Wisconsin to have the third highest cost of full-time care for a school-aged child in the nation at $7,893 a year. New York and Hawaii were highest on that list.

Last fall, Child Care Aware America released data, finding day care costs more than college in 31 states, including Wisconsin. The study found it costs families $9,939 every year for day care and $8,690 to send a kid to a state university. That's a difference of more than $1,200.

Ruth Schmidt, executive director of the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, says deciding between a job and care for a child can be a tough choice for parents.

"This is a time when parents are probably at their lowest earning income potential, they're young, they don't have time to save for the cost of this care," says Schmidt. "You want your child to be in the best possible place with the highest possible quality of care, the higher the quality of care the more expensive it's going to be."

Schmidt says child care is expensive for good reasons: you're paying for good care, plus the early learning and social development that comes with daycare is important for young children.

Advocates like Schmidt are hoping for a public discourse on the topic, to find other ways to fund child care, whether it be the government, tax credit increases, employer contributions or a school funding formula.

Right now, you can file a tax deduction if you send your child to day care, but many say it's not enough to cover the costs.

The state of Wisconsin also offers what's called the Wisconsin Shares child subsidy program to help low income families pay for day care.

Schmidt tells 27 News child care companies aren't getting rich on these high fees, in fact many struggle to stay in business and have trouble keeping under-paid employees on staff long-term.

Redepenning has taken up a job as a nanny since she's become a stay at home mom, to supplement the family's income and give her two kids, Riley and Noah, a chance to play and interact with other children.

Redepenning says she misses her job but is happy with her decision not to seek out daycare. The family is saving up to buy a house. She plans to go back to work when her kids start school.

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