Report: Child care costs tip many into poverty

Monitor staff
Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Child care costs are often the tipping point in pushing low-income families into poverty, new research from the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy suggests.

Nationally, nearly 1 in 10 families – 9.4 percent – who pay for child care are poor. About one-third – and estimated 207,000 families – wouldn’t be poor if they didn’t have to pay for child care out of pocket, according to the Carsey brief.

Researchers used data from the five most recent years of the federal government’s Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement for their brief, which covered 2011 to 2015.

Granite State-specific data wasn’t released in the Carsey brief released this week, but researchers crunched the numbers when asked. They found that a smaller proportion of New Hampshire families paying for child care were poor – but that of those poor families, a greater share had been pushed into poverty by out-of-pocket child care costs.

“An estimated 6.2 percent of New Hampshire families with young children who pay for child care are poor, according to our analyses of the Census’s Supplemental Poverty Measure. If they did not pay out of pocket for child care, roughly half of these poor families would not be poor,” said Beth Mattingly, the director of research on vulnerable families at the Carsey School and the brief’s co-author.

The New Hampshire data isn’t entirely surprising, she added.

“I think it mirrors what we know – New Hampshire is a low-poverty state, but New Hampshire is also an expensive state,” Mattingly said.