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Move over college, there’s a new school to budget for: preschool. A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a worker advocacy group, showed what many families already know: the cost of preschool is high. In many places, it is higher than college tuition, and higher even than rent. For many families, it is too high to sustain, resulting in one parent—usually the mother—having to stay home to care for the children.

The Unaffordability Problem

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the official affordability threshold for childcare costs is ten percent or less of a family’s income. EPI’s study, which analyzed average basic family budget thresholds in 618 communities across the country, found that only a few communities came close to this ten percent threshold – and all were in Louisiana. In some communities, the cost of childcare was more than 30 percent of the family’s budget.

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