The True Cost of Day Care in Nevada

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If you're a working parent you know child care is one of the largest expenses in your family's budget. A study released this month by non-profit Child Care Aware America ranks Nevada as the eleventh most expensive state for child care. So, we crunched the numbers. Is it worth it for both parents to be working in the silver state?

Take Amy Riley. Her workday is considerably different than two years ago.

"I've always loved what I do. I always wanted to be in advertising and marketing, and it was one of those things where I was at my dream job," she says. Riley is now working as an at-home-mom of three
after leaving a career at one of Nevada's premiere advertising agencies.

"Oh, we used to joke that I was essentially paying the ad agency to work," Riley laughs, "because there really was very little take home (income.)"

Sounds hard to believe, that an entire parent's annual income might not make a dent in the family budget, so we took the numbers to Jackson Hewitt's Cathy Martin.

"For first time parents. A lot of them don't realize how expensive it's going to be for the first child and they think 'oh, I'll go back to work as soon as maternity leave is over,'" Martin says, "They see how much it's going to cost to put a child an infant especially into day care and there's no point going back to work, and there's no point, all the money is spent there."

Child Care Aware of America found the average cost for putting an infant in child care in Nevada is $9,608. For a toddler it's $7,687.

And guess what, that is more expensive then sending your child to the University of Nevada. A full-load 30 credits' tuition and fees is $6,600 dollars.

So Martin took a hypothetical family, one parent earning $50,000 a year, the other $30,000. Of that $80,000, after paying federal taxes the parents take home $60,000. Subtract the cost of day care for an infant and toddler, which according to the study's averages would total $17,295. The couple nets $42,705.

"The one parent that's working, that's only making $30k, more than 50 percent of their income is going just for daycare," points out Martin. "Now you also have to add that they're in a higher tax bracket, so they're also paying an extra ten percent in taxes on top of that."

So, let's say the parent with less in earnings decides to stay home to watch the kids. With one parent earning $50,000 they are in a smaller tax bracket. No day care. Their net at the end of the year is $42,500. A difference of $205.

"So as the one parent makes you know 50-60 and the other one is 'oh, I'll just get a little part time job I'll maybe bring home 15-20k a year,' not only is it throwing you into a higher tax bracket, they're paying all of that back into daycare," says Martin.

"At the end of the day you really have to look at the numbers and really number crunch and be like 'where are we saving, and what are we earning and what is the benefit?'" says Riley, who admits there's no account more important than her current clients.

"This was on my bed last night, and it says 'we love you mommy, you are the best person in the world, with five year old spelling from Jenna Kait and Matthew."

Right now, Nevada's average wage is $824 per week, according to the state employment department. That's almost $43,000 a year. With the figures from this study, a single parent household would be putting more than 40% of their income into day care.