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Report: Virginia is among the nation's most expensive states for child care

Preschool Child Care Costs
Elaine Thompson
In this photo taken Feb. 12, 2016, kids send large blocks flying at a learning center.

The cost of child care continues to be a barrier for many people struggling to make ends meet.

Virginia is ranked 10 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia for the most expensive child care. That’s according to a new report from the Commonwealth Institute.

Mel Borja is a policy analyst at the Commonwealth Institute.

"A minimum wage worker would need to work full time for about 32 weeks just to pay for one infant's child care," Borja says. "Despite these costs, Virginia's childcare workers have a median income of $22,210. So they themselves struggle to get by."

Kim Bobo at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy says Virginia can do more to help working people struggling to make ends meet.

"We believe we need to raise wages, especially for those in the lowest paid jobs, increase supports for working people, setting standards for paid sick days and paid leave, continuing expansion on healthcare access and addressing exorbitant childcare costs," says Bobo.

To help struggling families, Virginia recently expanded its child care subsidy program. Families can apply for assistance if their income is below 85% of the state median. That's about $75,000 for a family of three.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.