BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Finding affordable daycare for parents is challenging and stressful.
Michelle Ziccardi, of Amherst, knows this first hand. The married mother of 3-year-old twins Carson and Parker would like to have them in daycare five days a week. But like many working couples with two incomes, she and her husband can’t afford it.
“I kind of had no choice but to start daycare but I can’t really afford daycare, so two days a week is what we can do right now,” Ziccardi said.
As a full-time teacher, she’s forced to rely on her family and friends to care for her boys for the other three days of the week.
It’s estimated that child care costs in Western New York are among the highest in the country. The average family in the Buffalo region pays between between $9,000 and $11,000 a year, according to Sheri Scavone, executive director of Western New York Women’s Foundation.
“The cost of childcare for a year here can equal or be more than the cost of a SUNY education for a year,” said Scavone.
Scavone and Lynn Pullano with the Child Care Resource Network both say it’s essential for working, single mothers living in poverty to find afforable, quality childcare.
“It can actually consume more than 50 percent of a low income family’s [budget],” Pullano said.
There are child care subsidies available in Erie County. But they only cover child care costs for about half of the children under the age of five who are living in poverty.
While the costs are high, experts say the education children receive in daycare is priceless.
“Seventy-five to 85 percent of a child’s brain development and their personality and social skills occurs in those first few years,” Savone said.
Currently, 38 states have a rating program in place that allow parents to find out the quality of any given daycare. New York is not part of this program, although a ratings system is in the development stages.
To read more about day care eligibility guidelines in Erie County, click here.