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New study highlights skyrocketing cost of child care

In California, the average annual cost of infant care is nearly $17,000, which is $8,925 more than in-state public college tuition.

SAN DIEGO — A new report shines a light on the skyrocketing price of child care here in California and around the country.

Since the start of the pandemic, the average annual cost has increased 41 percent, forcing many parents - disproportionately mothers - to leave the labor force. 

This eye-opening study by the Economic Policy Institute finds that the average family in California would have to spend over 40% of their income to pay for child care for two children.

The high cost of child care is hitting home for thousands of local families: the same report also finds that in California, the average annual cost of infant care is nearly $17,000, which is $8,925 more than in-state college tuition. That would swallow almost 25% of the median statewide family income for just one infant's care.

"You compare your take-home pay to the amount you're going to pay your child-care provider and sometimes, it makes more sense to stay home," said Laura Kohn, senior director of education and care at Mission Driven Finance in San Diego.

Kohn also previously authored a 2020 study with the San Diego Workforce Partnership

"It found that in San Diego County, child care is scarce," she said. "It is really hard to find."

This already onerous problem has only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

"It made it worse," Kohn told CBS 8. "There's no two ways about it!"

Kohn also pointed out that the amount parents pay for child care just barely covers the actual expense of providing it, "only because child care providers often pay low wages because that's all they can afford, based on the amount parents can afford to pay them."

This lack of affordable and accessible child care has also forced many parents -- disproportionately mothers--to quit their jobs outside of their homes, and stay home with their kids. There are more than one million fewer women in the workforce today compared to February of 2020, according to the latest employment report.

"It is so disproportionate that we are calling it a 'she-cession'" said Erin Hogeboom, director of the nonprofit San Diego for Every Child

There is some help, however, for struggling families.

San Diego for Every Child helped spearhead the "Guaranteed Income Project," using state funds as well as donations to provide $500 a month to low-income families in San Diego County for the next two years.

"So if, for example, they need funds or extra cash to help pay for child care, they have that at their disposal," Hogeboom told CBS 8. 

Mission Driven Finance is currently investing in child care facilities, including residential homes to lease to child-care providers.

"We're also going to share half of any appreciation on the property while they're renting from us, with the provider," Kohn said. "And the hope is, that they'll be able to use it toward a down payment to buy us out."

For more information on the Mission Driven Finance Care Access Real Estate (CARE) Investment Trust, click here.  

For more information on the Guaranteed Income Project by San Diego for Every Child, click here

WATCH RELATED: San Diego looks at 72 city buildings as potential child care centers amid the daycare crisis