Getting the kids ready for school may seem like the hardest part of the day for parents.
But, for Kanesha Banks and her sister, Krystal Harris, saying goodbye to their little ones is the most difficult part every day.
Banks has two little ones and Harris has three kids, including twins. Both moms have full-time jobs, but, even with that, they say child care takes a big bite out of their budget.
“Child care is a pay check,” says Harris.
Luckily, they found Saint Mark Center, a non-profit learning center with a focus on arts. At Saint Mark, the kids get high-quality care at a reduced rate for parents.
“The majority of people who come to Saint Mark are coming because they are seeking head start or daycare assistance,” said Deirdre Anderson, the executive director at St. Mark Center.
Tuition is based on a family’s income. Without the help, Harris says she would struggle to make ends meet.
“I would probably be working two jobs,” Harris said.
Experts say the first five years of a child’s life are the most crucial to shaping their minds but it could also be the most expensive.
The Family Conservancy collects data on childcare costs from both sides of the state line. What they’ve noticed is there’s a significant price difference from county to county.
“A family may be paying around $10,000 for that and sometimes even more and that's comparable to public college tuition for a year in our area,” Mary Williams, early care and education program manager at The Family Conservancy
Childcare for an infant could cost you more than $300 a week. Care for kids ages 1-5 could cost up to $265 a week. The price doesn’t drop until they’re six years old.
When you cross the state line to Jackson County, the rates drop drastically. The average rate for infant care is $182 a week. Toddlers through five years old will cost about $150 and less than $100 once they turn six years old.
Why the significant price difference? Williams says the majority of the cost goes toward personnel expenses and then there are other factors.
“Cost of living, state regulations, family income profile, competitors rates,” Williams said.
And there’s no sign those are costs coming down anytime soon. For now, Harris says she can afford the reduced child care rate, even though it’s tight.
“I came to drop Kylie and Kyla off at school one day and the balance was $1,000 and I was like ‘I don’t know how it’s going to get paid, I don’t know what’s going to happen.'”
Places like St. Mark Center help families with not only reduced rates but they also offer payment plans.
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