Did the pandemic impact child care costs?

Iowa ranked 13th on a state-by-state list of average child care cost increases, comparing pre-pandemic times to during the pandemic.

Child care costs across the nation have increased because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A study by Lending Tree looked at child care costs before the pandemic vs. during the pandemic.  Nationwide, child care centers saw a 41% increase in yearly cost per child. 

On a list of state-by-state cost increases, Iowa ranks 13th, with a 60% jump.  Before the pandemic, child care cost an average of $9,443 per child per year; during the pandemic, that amount rose to $15,090.

Illinois ranks 25th on this list, after child care costs jumped 45% during the pandemic.  Their yearly child care cost rose from $11,498 to $16,687.

Georgia saw a 115% jump, the largest increase of all 50 states. South Dakota saw the smallest jump, 8%, at less than $1,000 extra per child per year.

The study analysis said these additional costs “could be causing added strain on household budgets as those costs get passed on.”


The Iowa Department of Human Services offered guidance for how to safely operate a child care center amid COVID-19.  Face coverings and face shields were recommended for anyone over two years old, as well as 6-foot social distancing. Proper hand-washing hygiene and providing additional supplies to encourage cleanliness as well as frequent cleaning of high-trafficked areas were also included.

To help offset costs that these additional safety measures require, eligible child care centers have been offered a $2,000 per month stipend to use toward staff wages, replenishing toys, paying bills, or other costs inflated by COVID-19. 

In Illinois, similar guidance were expected to require anyone over the age of two to wear a face covering unless eating or being outside with social distancing in place.  See full guidance here.