Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Prospective LGBT parents should be aware of costs involved, be prepared to adjust expenditures

As it is with everything, else the cost of raising children continues to rise, and it now costs about 35 percent more than it did a half-century ago, according to a report released recently by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That’s important information for LGBT couples who want to adopt or otherwise add children to their family units to consider before taking the first steps to parenthood. Some couples might find the loss of disposable income problematic if they don’t plan accordingly for the increased expenses.

As of today, LGBT parents are raising 2 million American children, according to a joint report by the Movement Advancement Project, the Family Equality Council and the Center for American Progress. Four percent of adopted children, representing 65,000 children, are being raised by same-sex couples, according to the report.

The federal agency’s annual report, “Expenditures on Children by Families,” revealed that a child born in 2011 will cost middle-income parents $234,900 by today’s economic standards. That figure rises to $295,560 when inflation costs are factored in for the year 2028 when the child turns 18 years old.

The cost of raising each child in 2011 for the year for a middle-income, two-parent family was estimated in the report to range from $12,290 to $14,320, depending up the age of the child.

When the agency’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion first began issuing the report in 1960, the cost for raising a child over an 18-year period was projected to be $25,230 or $191,720 in 2011 dollars. The amount it costs to raise a child increased 3.5 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to the report.

Families considered to be of middle-income status earn between $59,410 and $102,870.

For families earning less than $59,410 will be expected to spend less, a total of $169,080 over a 17-year-period of raising a child. Families earning more than $102,870 can expect to spend $389,670 over the same period.

The estimates are based on data collected from the federal Consumer Expenditure Survey and reflect expenses such as shelter, food and other necessities like transportation, child care, education, clothing and health care. Expenses such as pregnancy or adoption costs or education beyond high school were not included in the estimates.

Housing, child care, education and food costs were identified as the largest expenditures in raising a child, with housing representing 30 percent of the cost, child care and education 18 percent and food 16 percent of the total cost over the 17-year period.

The report also noted that expenses for raising children tended to be the highest in the urban Northeast, less in the urban West and Midwest and the lowest in the South and rural areas.

Even though the 2010 U.S. Census showed that only 1 percent of U.S. households were managed by same-sex partners, three percent or 14,000 of the children in foster care are residing in those homes, according to the report issued by the trio of organizations studying LGBT families. Same-sex foster parents were found to more likely be couples of color.

That report also showed that children raised by same-sex couples are more likely to live in poverty than those raised by married heterosexual couples. Same-couples with children reported average household incomes of $59,270, compared to $74,777 for married heterosexual couples.

Of American families raising children, 73 percent of heterosexual parents are white, compared to 59 percent of same-sex parents. Same-sex couples of color are more likely to be raising children than are white same-sex couples.

Same-sex couples raising children are more likely to be living in the South. LGBT parents live in 96 percent of U.S. counties, with the largest numbers living in Mississippi, Wyoming, Alaska, Arkansas and Texas.
Two-thirds of male same-sex couples and 58 percent of female same-sex couples raising children were identified as Hispanic.

As the U.S. LGBT community continues to grow and transform itself through the marriage equality movement, the numbers of such families raising children will undoubtedly grow as well. It only makes sense for those new families to be prepared to adjust their expenditures accordingly because raising children obviously becomes the most expensive and important project parents will ever undertake.

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