WalletHub Study Places New York As A Top 10 Worst Place to Have a Baby

In light of September’s annual baby boom, WalletHub has released a study that ranks the best and worst states to have a baby, and New York’s results may be disconcerting for expecting parents.

Upon examining budget, health care, and baby-friendliness, WalletHub has concluded that, among all 50 states, New York is one of the worst for growing families. Trailing behind at No. 46, New York’s ultimate downfall is its reputation for childcare. A mixture of high costs and limited space makes finding accessible family services a disheartening endeavor.

Ranking 49th in the cost of infant-care, New York parents are paying upwards of $14,000 a year for full-time childcare, and that number is only rising. According to a study released by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the cost of childcare in New York is increasing by an average of $730 each year. While costs rise, the number of trained professionals is lacking.

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New York ranks No. 44 on the list of child centers per capita, making these expensive services hard to come by. The percent of nationally accredited child-care centers is only marginally better at 42nd in the country, but parents are now turning to alternatives for their childcare. According to a survey conducted by the Child Care Council of Westchester, parents are using a combination of professional and personal childcare, with 26 percent entrusting their children to family and friends.

Kathy Halas, executive director of the Child Care Council of Westchester

“We advise expectant parents to start as early as possible figuring out probable duration of maternity leave, post-baby work schedules, availability of family supports” says Kathy Halas, executive director of the Child Care Council of Westchester. The Child Care Council offers support for struggling parents.

“We have a database of all the Westchester programs and can help parents figure out what they need and how to find it and in some cases, pay for it,” Halas said.

Westchester parents specifically are paying nearly $6,000 above the state’s average.

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“It’s a very heavy lift for families even at higher income levels,” Halas says. “Many programs have vacancies, due I think, to the high cost of childcare in our county.”

The trouble, however, is not just with price, but with quality as well.

“Almost every state in the U.S. has a child-care rating system, except New York,” Halas explains, and this can often leave parents scrounging for information. “It’s been observed that it’s easier for consumers to find comparative info on cell phone plans than on child-care.”

So what can be done to make New York more baby-friendly? It takes a village to raise a child.

“The truth is that there must be more public investment in quality childcare, starting with the federal government, so that the burden on families is reduced,” Halas says. With government funding and legislation, programs such as QUALITYstarsNY can flourish, providing parents with the information they need to make the right decisions. However, Halas makes it clear that change can only come if someone starts speaking up.

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Gillibrand has revealed her own plan of action to improve New York’s ranking and reduce the financial burden of childcare.  In particular, she focuses on assistance from the work place, supporting tax breaks for businesses that assist their workers in finding quality childcare, or provide it on-site.  

“We know from talking to parents that location is often the top factor in choosing childcare, so proximity to the workplace is a great idea,”  Halas says. Until then, parents can work with the Child Care Council to find information on tax credits, scholarships, and discounts.

Check out the WalletHub study in its entirety here.

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