How do I know if I'm spending too much money for daycare?
Daycare costs vary depending on the type of daycare provider, your location, and many other factors. How do you know if you're overpaying? What's a reasonable amount that you have paid, and what are the different factors to look at?
I am actually a state registered child care provider & as far as I know every county should have a Child Care Resource & Referal type agency (in Iowa they are called this, the name may differ in other areas). You can call this agency & request a list of "average" rates for your county, this list will have rates for each age group & the rates for in-home vs center child care. You can compare the price you are paying with this & then think about the child care you child is in-is it a home, or center, is the provider registered (is the center licensed), does the provider carry any ratings/awards (CDA, Accreditation, QRS Level, etc....), does the provider belong to any child care organizations (NAFCC, NAEYC, etc....). If you are using a home provider that is not registered, hasn't taken classes or anything & they are charging at the top of the average rate than I would say you are paying to much, if the provider is registered & has awards or degrees, they have the knowledge/expertise and have taken the time out to learn, educate themselves more in their line of work, I would expect them to charge on the higher end.
Only way to really determine is to compare costs in your area - here in Los Angeles, you can expect to be paying somewhere around $1000 a month for 1-3 yr olds. Infants can be more expensive. Preschools run anywhere from the $750 range up to over $1000 a month. You get what you pay for though - I visited some very economical yet scary preschools when shopping around for my son.
Right now I am paying 3.50 an hour per kid (I have 4 yr old twins). I am a stay at home mom, so they only go once a week for 7 hours so I can do 'me time' activities like donate blood, doctors appointments, shopping, and some cleaning.
Every time I think about going back to work I do the math. My paycheck has to give me extra money after the cost of daycare plus gas, taxes and other work related expenses like lunch and wardrobe. For example, if I were to go back to work right now, I'd need to be making $15 an hour in town to make it worth my while, which is more than I was earning out of town before I had the twins and didn't have daycare because my older kids were in school.
So do some math and then call around to see who is qualified for what and then find out what they charge.