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Minimum wage hike makes child care more expensive: Unintended consequences

(Associated Press)

Increased tuition costs at daycare centers is another unfortunate consequence of minimum wage hikes (Associated Press)

Many voters support minimum wage increases because they believe these policies will benefit workers who are struggling to make ends meet. Proponents of minimum wage hikes say they allow workers in all sectors of the economy to make a “living wage.” Yet, minimum wage increases often have unintended consequences, one of which is shocking a number of parents in Washington. 

Washington recently passed a law increasing the state’s minimum wage to $13.50 an hour. As a result, many daycare workers are being paid more than before, and their increased pay is coming out of the pockets of parents with young children. 

Advent Child Center in Spokane Valley, Wash. is an example of a daycare that has been forced to hike tuition prices to accommodate the higher wages. Tuition at Advent Child Center is going to increase roughly $140 a month per child, to a rate of almost $845 a month. Many parents who send their children to the center will have a difficult time meeting the expense, as local Washington news outlet KXLY reported. 

One parent with two children enrolled at Advent Child Center said, “[tuition increases add] to the tightness of general month to month expenditures.” She said that although she understood why the center had to raise prices in the wake of the minimum wage hike, the price increase would be a substantial burden for her and her family. “I mean when you have your two children and the total is more than a mortgage payment, and then on top of it if you do have a mortgage payment and everything else, it adds up,” she said.

Meanwhile, Heidi Perry, the director at Advent Child Center, said that a number of parents are experiencing “sticker shock” over the increased prices. She said, “I had a lot of parents who walked into the office last night or this morning and say ‘am I reading this right?’ And I said yes you are.”

But Advent Child Care is not a unique case. Day Care Centers across the state of Washington will be forced to enact similar pay increases to compensate for their employees’ heightened salaries, something the parents who send their children to Advent Child Care recognize. 

”Even if you find somewhere right now that’s slightly lower, once January hits it sounds like a lot of places will be issuing increases,” said mother Dawn Ellis who has two children enrolled at the daycare center. “And we like the school, we’re happy there, they do a great job.”

Voters in states considering minimum-wage raising initiatives should consider the hidden costs of such measures, especially because they can have such a disproportionate impact on families with young children. 

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