USDA: Parents Spend $240K to Raise One Child - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

USDA: Parents Spend $240K to Raise One Child

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MISSOULA -

Recent reports show parents can expect to spend more than $240,000 to raise a child born in 2012.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture study shows that amount is a 2.6% increase from 2011.

Parents in Missoula said it's the cost of childcare that creates the biggest financial burden when raising kids.

Childcare experts said daycare and other after-school programs alone can cost parents up to $700 per month.

Charlene Tasakos is a stay-at-home mother of two children, ages two and seven.

Tasakos said it's tough to keep up with the costs of housing, feeding and clothing kids, even as they get older.

"I think it's a big conversation with every family, whether you have one kid or five kids," Tasakos said.

USDA data show expenses for childcare, education, health care and clothing saw the biggest increase in cost in 2012.

"I would definitely say that a first time parent definitely goes through that price -- that sticker shock of daycare," she said.

Research also shows family income affects child-rearing costs, meaning a family that earns more, spends more to raise a child. But in Missoula, data show many families are getting by on $30,000 per year.

"If you can wait until you can afford to have a child, you'll never have one -- you just figure it out once you have children," said Childcare Resources Executive Director Kelly Rosenleaf.

Rosenleaf said even some parents who are working full time fail to make ends meet.

"And since childcare's so expensive they would not be able to stay in the workforce without help," she said.

Rosenleaf said Childcare Resources helps about 500 families per month pay for childcare in Missoula, Ravalli and Mineral Counties.

And USDA figures show childcare accounts for 18% of the cost of raising kids through the age of 17.

"So, five years, it's a lot of money, it's like college tuition!"

Rosenleaf and Tasakos agree asking for help is crucial for families trying to keep up financially.

"When families are very stressed financially, they are unable to conceal that from their children," Rosenleaf added.

Tasakos said, "Friends and family is a huge part of raising kids, and a community like this, people help out."

The USDA study shows a middle-income family in 1960 spent about $25,000 to raise a child through the age of 17.

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