Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Too poor for daycare

I'm not one for shooting off numbers, but man, this is a story I can't help but tell:

We recently moved and had to give up our previous beloved daycare. It was a big sacrifice, but when the commute gets to be over a hundred miles, it's time to start looking elsewhere.

I started calling daycares in the vicinity of our new apartment and many of them were full. I started to have a panic attack. How could I go to work? What was I going to do???

Finally, to my relief, one daycare told me that although they were full, they might have someone leaving soon and could secure a spot for my daughter. I was so relieved. I started making arrangements. I casually asked them what the daycare would cost.

"Our tuition," they told me (I should have known there was trouble the second they called it tuition), "is $2400 per month."

I almost choked. $2400 per month. Almost $30,000 per year. For a two year old to sit in a big room of toddlers and color. Presumably she'd be coloring with solid gold crayons because I can't imagine where else all that money is going.

What baffles me is that they daycare was FULL. There were several dozen parents willing to pay this gigantic sum of money. Who are these people?? And what if you have two kids in daycare? That's nearly $60,000 per year just for daycare!! What sort of salary do you need to be making pre-taxes to pay for this? Each parent would have to be working and earning six figures just to break even with daycare and rent.

I did manage to find a daycare with a somewhat more reasonable "tuition," although still kind of horrifying. But now my problem is the hours. They close at 5:30, no exceptions. What sort of daycare is closed by 5:30?? How many working parents are there who are presumably earning six figure salaries to afford two kids in daycare yet can manage to be AT the daycare for pick-up by 5:30 sharp every single day?? Who ARE these people and how can I become one of them???

8 comments:

  1. Dear God. I would imagine that the 2 kid households hire a babysitter, au paire. I think daycare costs in the neighborhood of $1200/month where I live, but as you mentioned there is the 6PM pickup time.

    Can you imagine trying to work all of this out in a two resident family? It seems it would be near impossible.

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  2. A babysitter for 2-3 kids? Maybe $25 an hour in these parts. $65,000 per year for a 50 hour week.

    I interviewed one nanny years ago who wanted $20/hour for my one baby, plus she wanted a month of paid vacation per year. I didn't even get a month of vacation!!

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  3. I don't know any daycares that are open past 6pm. Ours closes at 5:45 and that has definitely induced some stress when I have a busy afternoon clinic.

    Regarding obscene daycare costs - my son just started full-time kindergarten at private school and his tuition is less than half what I paid for two days a week of daycare.

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  4. We pay about $21,400 a year for two kids. Son's preschool is a 5:30 SHARP type of organization. Luckily, Husband and I are able to juggle it so one of us can usually get there. Sometimes I walk in the door at 5:30 exact. It's difficult. Daughter can stay until 6, so she is always our second pickup. Any chance you can afford in-home help? Sometimes they'll work for less money if you throw in room & board.

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  5. We could afford a live-in if they'd be willing to sleep on the balcony or in a closet.

    Big city = housing expensive = small apartment.

    Seriously though, a real nanny would cost a fortune out here.

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  6. Fizzy, what city is this? That is outrageous!

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  7. I don't want to give away my location, but it's one of the 25 biggest cities in the country.

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  8. I am in the south bay area of Los Angeles, and most daycares around here are also crazy-pricey like the 2400 tuition one mentioned here. I found a hidden gem that costs me only 900 a month per child, with the two child discount is was only about 1700 a month for both kids, open from 6am until 7pm (they open earlier if you schedule it ahead of time, but you have to limit yourself to 10 hours a day according to the state.) Bottom line I could leave them at 8ish, get in a workout or run an errand after work and still be on time to collect them around 6ish... No one from my current elementary school was in my son's class, this is not one of the hip and fancy preschools, but I tell you, my now kindergardener is doing awesome in kinder, and I credit a lot of his readiness to his preK teacher at the 900 a month daycare/preschool.

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