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ALICE Update: How Child Care Costs Impact Many CT Families

In Connecticut, 1 in 4 households have earnings that exceed the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) but fall short of a basic cost of living threshold. We call these households ALICE - an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, and together with the 10% of Connecticut households in poverty, more than one-third of Connecticut households (35%) are struggling to make ends meet.

For ALICE and poverty households with young children, the cost of child care is a significant burden. The Connecticut ALICE Report estimates that the cost of child care for two children (1 preschooler and 1 infant) is at least 28% of the monthly expenses included in the Household Survival Budget for a family of four.

In this ALICE Update, we use the latest available cost data from 2-1-1 Child Care to examine the biggest child care challenges facing ALICE families in the state:

  1. Child care is often the single largest expense for families with young children, with limited options for affordable infant and toddler care posing a significant challenge. This is especially true for ALICE families.
  2. Child care subsidies are available for working families, but some ALICE families have earnings that exceed the eligibility threshold, and others struggle to cover the difference between the subsidy and the provider fee.
  3. Availability and cost of child care varies throughout the state, limiting options for ALICE families who may not be able to find child care providers they can afford that are located near where they work or live.
  4. There are limited child care options that are available during evening, night, or weekend shifts. Second and third shifts, and weekend hours are more common among low- to moderate-income ALICE workers. When work schedule are unpredictable, and vary from week to week, it can be hard for ALICE families to find child care when they need it.

Additionally, the online version of this ALICE Update includes interactive visualizations to explore the average cost of child care throughout Connecticut. View the average weekly cost of care as a percentage of median income or compare the average costs of Home-based and Center-based child care for children of all ages.

Meet ALICE
In November 2014, Connecticut United Ways released the first statewide ALICE Report, a data-driven, comprehensive research project that quantifies the situation confronting many low-income working families across our state - in our urban, suburban, and rural communities. The Report documents that the number of Connecticut households unable to afford all of life's basic necessities far exceeds the official federal poverty statistics. Click here to learn more.

About Connecticut United Ways
Connecticut United Ways indentify and build upon strengths and assets in their local communities, helping individuals and groups with specific interests find ways to contribute their time and talents, support direct-service programs and community-change efforts, and advocate public policy changes toward advancing the common good by creating opportunities for all, with a particular focus on education, income, and health - the building blocks for a good quality of life. We engage people and organizations all across the community who bring passion, expertise, and resources needed to get things done.