TN childcare costs exceed rental rates: State of the Child Report released

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — How well are kids and their families in the state of Tennessee faring? A report just released today highlights the well-being of our kids after the pandemic. The Tennessee Commission on Children & Youth (TCCY) published the 2022 State of the Child Report. The statistics give insight into how children are recovering from social, educational and economic challenges associated with the pandemic.

More specifically, the data emphasizes the lack of affordable and accessible childcare for Tennessee families, stating that the cost of childcare in the state is 81% higher than what a family pays annually for rent. The report says the cost for care for an infant and 4-year-old would typically cost an average of $19,539 annually. In comparison, annual rent for a Tennessee family would cost $10,764.

To provide a clearer view, on a month-to-month scale, that would be almost $900 average for monthly rent compared to more than $1600-per-month for childcare.

The report says the lack of affordable childcare creates financial and social stress for Tennessee families, and adding to that strain, 1-in-4 Tennessee children live in a household that spends over 30% of their income on rent or mortgage.

Of the surveyed Tennessee families, 70% report being able to afford childcare is the most difficult challenge they face. “Care for infants and young children is becoming increasingly hard to find and really difficult to pay for. Cost for center-based care for an infant and 4-year-old in Tennessee is almost $20,000 annually, and that’s 81% higher than the average annual rent in Tennessee,” said TCCY Policy Specialist Kylie Graves.

We’ve learned that affording daycare has become even more difficult for parents due to the pandemic. Families across the state report encountering an increased challenge finding care outside Monday thru Friday daytime hours. The report goes on to say 98% of Tennessee parents with children under the age of 5, report inadequate childcare hurt their work productivity or career opportunities.

Authors of the report also touched on the topic of child adversity, saying Tennessee children experience a higher level of adversity than other children across the nation. These categories include, for example, children who have experienced a parent or guardian dying, a parent who’s served time in jail, or even parents who have divorced. This also includes living with someone who’s mentally ill or suicidal or has issues with drugs or alcohol, has been a victim of violence or has witnessed violence in their community.

We also learned that 41% of Tennessee children have at least one adverse experience, and that black children in Tennessee are twice as likely to have at least two adverse experiences as white children in Tennessee. TCCY suggests ways to improve these adverse conditions.

“We are seeing an increase in regard to indicators of family resilience. So, things like working together to talk through problems, knowing strengths to draw on in times of need and investing in building up those sources of resilience on an individual, family and community level is critical to supporting healthy development and mitigating adversity,” said TCCY Executive Director Richard Kennedy.

According to the report, household adverse experiences are the most common among Tennessee children, with more than 1-in-3 reporting some level of household adversity.