Nebraska Child Care Cost Model


The Nebraska Child Care Cost Model is an important step toward creating a truly sustainable child care system for providers as well as the children, families and communities they serve.

What is a child care cost model?

Child care cost models are tools for showing how the expense of delivering child care services relates to the actual revenues earned by child care providers. Cost models enable users to experiment with different child care scenarios to better understand how regulations and the economy do or do not contribute to the sustainability of child care programs.

Cost models have helped other states shape policies regarding child care subsidy, program quality and improvement systems, professional development for child care providers and other issues. Although cost models can tell us much about how child care programs operate, the Nebraska Child Care Cost Model is not a business planning resource for providers. Rather, its purpose is to:

  • Help policymakers make better legislative and administrative decisions to ensure child care providers are compensated fairly, prepared for the professional demands of child care and have the necessary resources to operate successful programs.
  • Equip early childhood advocates to educate and engage decision makers in the public and private sectors about policy issues affecting child care providers throughout the state.

About the Nebraska Child Care Cost Model

The Nebraska Child Care Cost Model was made possible through funding from Nebraska’s Preschool Development Grant (PDG). It is a project of the Shared Leadership and Financing (SL&F) Task Force and was developed by Prenatal to Five Fiscal Strategies (P5FS), national experts in child care cost model systems.

P5FS worked closely with state agencies and experts to build a model that reflects Nebraska’s current statutes and regulations. P5FS and First Five Nebraska consulted with child care providers across the state who shared their input on the costs associated with delivering high-quality child care.

How the cost model works

The Nebraska Child Care Cost Model is a Microsoft Excel-based tool that has separate tabs for Child Care Centers (CCC) and Family Child Care Homes (FCCH). The cost model spreadsheet is divided into two separate sections for each of these program types:

  • Inputs: This section of the cost model allows users to enter information about a child care program’s structure, staffing, enrollment and other characteristics.
  • Results/Outputs: Based on the specific program information entered in the Inputs section, the cost model calculates and displays the costs of delivering child care for a specific provider.
Inputs Outputs
  • Geographical location of program
  • Size of the program and staff-to-child ratios
  • Salary and benefits provided
  • Program enhancements (professional development opportunities, family engagement services, transportation, etc.)
  • Program enrollment
  • Sources of revenue such as tuition or child care subsidy reimbursements
  • Personnel expenses
  • Non-personnel costs
  • Weekly, monthly and annual cost-per-child by age level
  • Monthly gap between current child care subsidy rates and the cost-per-child
  • Monthly gap between the cost-per-child and current child care market tuition rates

Users can experiment with multiple variations on a cost model scenario by making modifications to the number and age of children served, professional development supports, level of staff compensation and other variables. With each change in the inputs, the cost model will recalculate whether program revenues are sufficient to cover operational costs and generate graphs to visualize this data for easy reference.

Cost model calculations are based on current state-level data and statute/regulations. This tool will be updated on an ongoing basis to reflect changes in the child care environment in Nebraska.

*Funding Statement: This project is made possible by funding received through Grant Numbers 90TP0108-01-00 and 90TP0079-01, of the USDHHS-Administration for Children and Families, Office of Early Childhood; Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services; Nebraska Department of Education; and Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, following grant requirements of 70% federal funding with 30% match from state and private resources. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Office of Child Care, the Administration for Children and Families, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Dr. Katie Bass
Dr. Katie Bass

Policy and Research Advisor

(402) 261-9671 (ext. 104)

Download the Cost Model

Nebraska Child Care Cost Model (Excel)


Business Resources for Child Care Programs

Child care providers can find a variety of business tools for their programs at the Nebraska Exchange, a project of the Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative:

  • Program administration supports
  • Discounted educational materials
  • Reduced-price training opportunities
  • Marketing tools