MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesota ranks as one of the most expensive places in the country for child care, which eats up more than 15 percent of income for a married couple making around $90,000 a year.

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According to Child Care Aware, that’s the third worst in the country.

On the flip side, the state has strict child-caretaker standards. For parents, it’s a double-edged sword.

Portia Jackson is no stranger to child care bills.

“My kids are 16, 13, seven and two [are] on the way,” Jackson said.

And two new babies means two day care bills.

“I’ve been looking since I was about six-weeks pregnant for child care, to find quality child care that’s affordable,” she said.

Volleyball-mom Jacqueline Thompson can sympathize. She’s done paying for care for her teenaged kids, but says it was rough going for a while.

“I worked a couple of different jobs just so I could pay for it,” Thompson said.

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Dr. Debra Fitzpatrick researches child care at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. She’s not surprised that a new study ranks Minnesota as the third highest in the country for child-care costs.

“They’re working full time, they’re often two parent families that are working very hard, and it’s still really hard for them to find the resources to pay for that kind of high-quality care,” Dr. Fitzpatrick said.

She says Minnesota also has some of the most-regulated care in the country, and that comes at a price.

“You want to make sure there are enough adults in the room to be taking care of the kids that are there, when you look at the kind of training that’s required of child care workers,” she said.

In Minnesota, there has to be one teacher for every seven young kids. And Dr. Fitzpatrick doesn’t expect the numbers to change anytime soon.

This is causing many parents to do an anxious countdown to kindergarten.

“It’s a struggle,” Jackson said. “I’ll probably have to work two jobs now, but it’ll be OK. It’ll only be for five years.”

Thanks to some new legislation, more scholarships are available for child care. Click here for more information.

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For older children, Minneapolis Parks offers these options.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield