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Colorado childcare costs can eat up majority of family income

The price of childcare could drain away almost half the income of a single mother in Colorado, according to a new report released Tuesday. For married couples, it’s closer to a tenth of the household income.

The report, which was produced by preschool quality assessor Qualistar along with the Women’s Foundation of Colorado and the Children’s Campaigns, looked both at the cost of childcare (how much money is spent to provide the service) and the price (how much a consumer pays for the service). In Colorado, childcare costs outstrip college costs for state universities.

And the cost of providing childcare outstripped how much families paid, despite the high prices. That’s due to a number of factors, including high staffing requirements and food costs due the multiple meals most centers provide.

Both the price of childcare and how much of the typical family’s income it required varied by county. Gunnison County, in western Colorado, topped out as the least affordable for single mothers, with the average cost of childcare taking up over 85 percent of the typical single mother’s salary. For married couples, the least affordable county was Routt, in northwestern Colorado.

While many of the least affordable counties were small and dispersed rural areas, Denver ranked as one of the most costly for both single mothers and families.

The full list of the most and least expensive counties for childcare:

See the full report here.