The amount of family income spent on child care has hovered around 7 percent between 1986, when data were first collected, and 2011, for families who paid for child care even despite child-care costs rising for the same period, the Census Bureau report said in a release.
Families with an employed mother and children younger than the age of 15 paid an average of $143 per week for child care in 2011, up from $84 in 1985, the report indicated.
The percentage of families who said they made a payment for child care for at least one of their children fell from 42 percent in 1997 to 32 percent in 2011, the Census Bureau document said.
Since 1997, use of organized day care centers and father-provided care for preschoolers rose, while the proportion of children cared for by non-relatives in the provider's home declined, the report said.
"Perhaps the most critical decision parents make in balancing their work and home life is choosing the type of care to provide for their children while they work," said report author Lynda Laughlin, a family demographer in the Census Bureau's Fertility and Family Statistics unit. "This report is unique in that it is not only the sole study from the Census Bureau on this topic, but also provides a consistent time-series on trends going back to the mid-1980s."
The information was collected in the Survey of Income and Program Participation.