Will Your Childcare Costs Increase Once the Pandemic Ends?

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 23, 2021 - First published on June 29, 2021

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Smiling parents playing with their young children in a preschool classroom.

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Some people may need to factor higher childcare costs into their budgets.

As a full-time working mom, I rely on summer camp to keep my kids out of the house and busy during the day when school isn't in session. That way, I can focus on getting my job done without a million interruptions.

Last year, summer camp was closed due to the pandemic, and while I saved myself a lot of money by not having to pay those fees, it was also a very challenging time for me. During July and August of 2020, I had to juggle working and keeping my kids content. That meant taking lots of time off during the day and having to work until all hours of the night to catch up. It also meant losing income on those nights when I just couldn't catch up. (Since I'm self-employed, if I work fewer hours, I get paid less.)

This summer, camp is open, which is a good thing. But it also means my expenses are going up in a very big way, as I'll now be spending a small fortune on tuition.

In fact, a lot of people may soon see their childcare costs increase as the pandemic comes to an end -- or at least improves substantially. If you have young children and work full-time, that's something you'll want to keep in mind.

Why your childcare costs could rise

A lot of people have spent the past 15 months working from home due to the pandemic. But now, employers are increasingly calling workers back to the office, what with the widespread availability of coronavirus vaccines. If you'll be returning to an office, you may need to start paying for childcare -- even if you haven't paid for it in many months.

Say you have a second-grader who's in school until 3 p.m., but you don't get done with work until 6 p.m. If you're working from home, that may not be an issue right now -- you can collect your child from the school bus and have him or her self-entertain while you finish up your day. But you can't really leave a second-grader home alone, so if you'll no longer be there after school each day because your employer wants you back in the office next month, you'll need childcare.

Similarly, if you'll be returning to the office this summer, you may need to spring for camp so your child has somewhere to be while you're not home. Again, that's an expense you'll want to factor into your budget -- and make sure it fits in.

Of course, one thing that might change for the better is that come September, more schools may be open for full-time, in-person learning. If you've been paying for childcare to occupy those daytime hours (say, your child is learning remotely but you're already back to the office or have a job that can't be done remotely), you may soon see that expense lessen, thereby easing that burden.

Prepare for your costs to change

Childcare is far from cheap, and the last thing you want to do is end up in debt or have to dip heavily into your savings to cover its cost. If you expect to take on more childcare costs as the pandemic ends, plan for it now. Start cutting back on other bills and remove some expenses from your budget to free up the money for the care you need.

On my end, my bills are skyrocketing as I pay for camp tuition to make sure my kids are accounted for this summer. But it's a worthwhile and necessary expense for me. Without it, my productivity will suffer, as will my earnings. And, my physical and mental health will take a beating if I have to spend another summer working all night, every night. Still, I'm reconfiguring my budget and my personal finances to allow for that expense, and if you're in a similar boat, you should too.

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