Living Hawaii: Where Child Care Can Cost More Than College

Students at Pearl City's Keiki Care Center of Hawaii on April 30, 2014.

Students at Pearl City’s Keiki Care Center of Hawaii on April 30, 2014.

After teacher Mai Hall realized that child care for her two children — an 18-month-old boy and a 10-year-old girl — would cost nearly as much as she would earn after taxes, she left the workforce to become a stay-at-home mom.

Full-time care on Oahu for a toddler like hers can cost as much as $1,300 a month, Hall discovered. Add on the $120 monthly bill that she and her husband, a car salesman, pay for their daughter’s after-school care. Throw in the daily meals and other miscellaneous expenses for the kids. In all, the family would be paying about $18,000 a year on care for the two children.

When Hall worked, her family’s annual income was about $86,000 before taxes, meaning that child care would have consumed a quarter of the family’s net earnings.

So, after having her son, Hall didn’t look for a new job. She decided to spend her days caring for the infant herself. Not paying for child care clearly saved the family money and she was able to be more present in the baby’s life, but it means the family of four is entirely dependent on her husband’s salary of $51,000.

Hall says she won’t return to the workforce until she gets a teaching job that pays enough for the family to afford outside toddler care.

“I have a magic number in my head that I have to earn for it to be worth it,” Hall said. She wants a salary that is about equal to what her husband earns, but so far she hasn’t had any luck.


Photo Credit: PF Bentley of Civil Beat



Posted on

May 1, 2014