SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) —  Since 2006, the median cost of childcare has increased dramatically.

According to market rates studies conducted by the state, in 2006, it cost parents $533 a month for infant care per child, and $400 a month for a 5-year-old child. In 2017, it cost parents $760 a month for infant care per child, and $563 a month for a 5-year-old child.

“I feel like if I was going to pay higher for that better care, that’s when it’s like, ‘no I’ll stay home,'” said Erin Kern, a mother of three. “I don’t want any less for my kids.'”

Kern says she used to work as a teacher, but decided to stay home because of these high daycare costs.

“Women have a valuable role in the work field,” said Kern. “If the costs are so high for daycare and we take that role upon ourselves to be the ones to stay at home, then we’re not going to get women out in the work field. (Women) make a difference everywhere they are but there’s no option. The daycare prices are so high and (women) have to stay home.”

Tracy Gruber, Director of the Utah Office of Child Care, says there have been significant changes to the expectations of childcare programs and the level of quality that they’re providing.

“That accounts for some of those increases,” said Gruber.

Gruber says licensed and regulated daycare programs support child development.

“Research is really informing the expectations on child care programs and the requirements on them to ensure that kids during that critical developmental stage are getting their developmental needs addressed so they’re ready for their formal education,” said Gruber.

Another part of the problem is a shortage of providers willing to take toddlers and infants, resulting in long waiting lists for certain providers across the state.

Jamie Kennedy is a single mom, who knows what this is like.

“The cheapest one I found is $1,000 a month,” said Kennedy. “I barely make $11 an hour so to pay rent and childcare is a stretch.”

Kennedy says her biggest battle is finding providers who will accommodate her work schedule.

“You can’t always work a nine to five job,” said Kennedy. “Not having childcare because of your hours is also difficult. It makes it hard for any mom — especially a single mom.”

Kennedy is hoping to be eligible for a state subsidy, which will better help her make ends meet.

To see if you’re eligible for a state subsidy, visit the Department of Workforce Services Utah Office of Child Care.

Other possible solutions for parents include:

  • Taking advantage of flex accounts or tax credits that let you pay for your child care with pre-tax dollars
  • Reduce the hours or day you pay for daycare by changing your work schedule
  • Ask family or friends to help with childcare
  • Ask if your employer offers assistance