Understanding the Cost of Daycare in Illinois
It’s no secret that the cost of childcare across the country can be stag. Recent estimates from the Economic Policy Institute show that new parents in Illinois pay an average of $1,150 for infant care every month. If you do the math, that comes to an eye-popping yearly bill of $13,802, which is akin to purchasing a brand new Ford Fiesta outright every year.
But that figure doesn’t exactly tell the whole story. In reality, parents in Illinois have quite a number of options for child care, including traditional daycare, employing an at-home nanny, on-site (workplace) daycare, nanny sharing, or deciding to have one parent stay home to care for your little one.
Is daycare financially feasible for Illinois parents? How do other childcare alternatives stack up against the standby of daycare when it comes to the overall costs?
In this article, we provide a quick rundown of the costs associated with each childcare option, so you can figure out which is best for your child care needs and budget.
Option #1- Daycare
Daycare remains one of the most practical [and perhaps most cost-effective] ways to obtain care for your child while you’re at work, in school, or running errands. Daycare is the most chosen option across Illinois. It’s not difficult to understand why:
Many choices available – Daycare centers in Illinois come in all shapes and sizes. Your choice includes small daycares in an operator’s home vs. large daycare centers vs. Montessori facilities. Of course, each choice offers a different set of services and comes at different price points.
Ultimately, your preference for style of care and your budget will be the deciding factors. For instance, if you want a daycare facility where your child will get the most personal attention, you would be better off choosing an at-home-based daycare center. However, if you’re finicky about the quality of care your child will receive, you will probably pick a daycare center green-lighted by the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children).
Extra peace of mind – Almost all daycare centers (except for smaller home-based daycares) in Illinois are licensed and closely monitored by the Department of Children and Family Services. They must follow strict accreditation rules and adhere to state regulations. For this reason, you can always rest easy knowing that your child is in the safe hands of highly professional, duly vetted, and regulated caregivers.
More resources for childcare – Daycare centers are usually well-equipped with all sorts of books, playground equipment, toys, and other handy resources that promote your child’s development.
More wallet-friendly – It’s well-known that daycare is less costly than nanny care and other alternatives (more ahead on the actual costs).
Multiple caregivers/teachers – Most daycare facilities are staffed with many experienced teachers and trained caregivers who have been working with children for years. Your child will get to interact with multiple teachers, which is important for building better social skills.
Shedding Some Light on the True Cost of Daycare in Illinois
The actual cost of daycare in Illinois varies greatly depending on your child’s age and whether you need full-time or part-time care, as well as the type of center you choose and where it’s located.
For babies and toddlers (i.e., those under-2 years of age), the state-wide average you can expect to pay is $1,150 per month for full-time care at a center in Illinois. That means the daily cost comes down to around $38.33. If you take your child to a daycare center within Group 1A Counties (such as Kendall, Cook, etc.) or Group 1B Counties (like Champaign, Monroe, etc.), that rate can be as high as $46.49 per day — or a little shy of $1,400 each month.
However, parents who take their children to daycare centers in Group 2 Counties, which are essentially any childcare facility outside of the two zones mentioned above will incur up to $33.53 per day. This is the maximum daily rate capped by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).
The prices mentioned so far apply to licensed daycare facilities only. Although they still operate under the watchful eye of the IDCFS, license-exempt daycare facilities can’t care for more than three children at a time. If you opt for this type of daycare, the prices are a bit fairer at $40.50, $36.73, and $28.46 per day in Group 1A, Group 1B, and Group 2 counties, respectively.
Parents who choose to get 5 or fewer hours of care for their children at a daycare center will enjoy lower part-time rates of between $14.60 and $23.25 per day for a child under age 2. The amount will depend on the number of hours of care provided and the location of the facility.
When the child reaches the age of 2, the maximum cost of daycare drops to between $23.77 and $39.26 per day for full-time childcare at a licensed facility in the state. Parents patronizing license-exempt centers will pay up to $34.20 in the expensive Group 1A zone.
While infant care costs parents in Illinois around $13,800 annually, the daycare cost for a child three years of age and older is roughly $864 monthly or $10,370 annually. Parents of children at this age who opt for licensed daycare centers will have to be content with a daily maximum rate of between $23.77 and $32.72. For license-exempt centers, the prices range from $28.50 to $20.70, depending on the county where the facility is located. Learn more about these daycare rates here.
These statistics clearly show that the costs of daycare do vary immensely. Pricing is based on the kind of center, what features it provides, and where you reside. City parents are sure to foot a bigger childcare bill, of course. You’d be lucky to pay less than $50 for a licensed daycare center in Chicago, for instance. Meanwhile, parents who manage to score a good home daycare in Group 2 centers will be happy paying as little as $19 for a full day of childcare.
Option -2: In-home nanny
In-home nannies serve as a reasonable alternative to traditional daycare for parents seeking a more intimate form of childcare. Contrary to common belief, nannies are not glorified babysitters; they do much more than you think.
A conventional in-home nanny is responsible for taking your child to and from activities like playgrounds, parks, etc.; feeding and cleaning your little one, and of course, assisting with household chores like laundry, washing dishes, cooking, and so forth.
Think of an in-home nanny as your own Mary Poppins (except that she’s painfully expensive and nowhere near perfect, of course). Nannies engage in activities, create daily schedules, and generate play opportunities to ensure your child’s healthy emotional, physical, and mental growth.
How much does in-home nanny care cost in Illinois?
Live-in nannies are, without question, the most expensive of all daycare options parents have in Illinois. Conservative estimates put the average state-wide cost of an in-home nanny at around $13.92 per hour, but this rate varies immensely based on where you reside in Illinois. Even though the state’s minimum wage is $11/hour, the going rate can vary wildly from $11 to $20 or well beyond that.
Some households do provide the nanny with room & board in a bid to dial down the hourly rate. Even so, some of the downsides of hiring an in-home nanny for childcare are too glaring to ignore. Managing a nanny (as an employee) is often a big headache for parents, plus lack of regulations, sick leave, lateness, and parenting style conflicts can put a huge bummer on the relationship.
Option -3: Nanny share
As the name suggests, nanny share is a form of childcare where multiple families share the service of a single nanny. It’s often a good choice for parents who live in a multi-family facility like multiplexes, apartments, condominiums, etc.
In this situation, the nanny gets a fatter paycheck, but you end up paying less per child for the service. This choice offers a decent degree of flexibility, comfort, and convenience, along with increased socialization for the children and help with household work.
As with any other childcare option, nanny share costs are all over the place. However, the nanny will ask for one or two dollars more than the local going rate for a traditional nanny service. That means the hourly fee can fall somewhere between $13 and $22.
There are of course some key disadvantages of using this type of childcare. If you have only one child, the cost of taking him or her to a traditional daycare makes more financial sense than joining a nanny share. Administrative challenges like payroll, taxes, and paperwork can make nanny share less convenient for ever-busy parents. The relationship with the nanny-share can sour pretty quickly if there are any parenting style conflicts.
All things considered, daycare remains the best form of childcare for parents in Illinois in terms of practicality and cost. Are you looking for a trusted, state-of-the-art daycare in Chicago? Schedule a tour at any of our locations today. Serving the Edgewater, Irving Park, Lakeview, North Park, Lincoln Square, Edison Park, and West Loop communities since 2010.
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