This may come as a shock to folks who utilize child care services in the Garden State: New Jersey ranks among the most affordable states in the country for at-home and center-based child care.

A survey released in July by Care.com finds New Jersey is the second-most affordable state for a nanny, and the fifth-most affordable for day care, based on the average cost of one child's care as it relates to the state median family income.

The survey notes average weekly rates continue to rise nationally for all types of child care:

Average weekly rate:

  • Nanny: $565
  • Child care center: $211
  • Family child care: $200
  • Au pair: $367
  • After school sitter: $232

One in three families in the survey said they spend at least 20 percent of their household income on child care. More than half of respondents believe they're spending too much.

"It gets to be extremely costly," said Kathy Feigley, president of the New Jersey Child Care Association, who's surprised by the state's pleasant ranking. She believes it's linked to higher incomes in the Garden State.

Feigley, who's also executive director of Kangaroo Kids Child Care & Learning Center in Branchburg, said parents, especially those with more than one child, are struggling to afford child care and, more importantly, quality child care that will positively impact their kids' lives.

"I think sometimes people choose maybe lesser programs," Feigley said, pointing to research that shows the importance of successful and consistent care during the 0-to-5 age range.

In the Care.com survey, 77 percent of parents said they'd pay more for a child care center if they were offered a lower student-teacher ratio. Sixty-nine percent said they'd put more money out if they were supplied a web cam feed to check on their kids.

A survey late last year from nonpartisan think tank New America calculated New Jersey's cost of child care at $17,868 annually, averaging at-home and in-center pricing.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.