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Child-Care Costs Hit Poor Families Harder, Census Says

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Poor families pay about $25 a week less for child care than other families do, but they pay a significantly higher percentage of their income for such services, the U.S. Bureau of the Census reports.

While poor families that paid for child care in 1993 spent 18 percent of their monthly income on such services, nonpoor families spent only 7 percent.

"Even though poor families pay less for child care, they feel the biggest pinch in their budget," said Lynne M. Casper, the author of the report, "What Does It Cost To Mind Our Preschoolers?"

The study found that in 1993 there were 9.9 million U.S. children under age 5 who needed child care while their mothers were at work. The biggest percentage--41 percent--stayed in the care of family members, 30 percent used organized child-care facilities, and 17 percent were in family-day-care settings.

Other arrangements included in-home babysitters and mothers who cared for their children at work.

While the cost of child care depended on the arrangement, the average weekly price tag for families with working mothers was $57. Parents using in-home babysitters paid the most--about $65--compared with $52 for family day care and $42 for care by relatives.

The average cost of child care for white children was about $62 a week, $10 more per week than for black or Hispanic youngsters.

Families with two or more preschool children paid $110 a week for child care.

Although families saved an average of $16 a week when two or more children participated in a program together, only about one-third of paid child-care arrangements were shared this way, according to the report.

For information on ordering copies of the report, call (301) 457-4100.

--Laura Miller

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