Most families in New Jersey struggle to afford to send a child to day care.

A new study by the Economic Policy Institute finds that New Jersey parents pay nearly $11,500 per year for daily infant care. The annual cost of care for a 4-year-old child is about $9,500.

"It's just about 25 percent less than what people are paying on average in rent over the years," said Research Expert Josh Bivens. "And only about 38 percent of New Jersey families sort of meet that affordability threshold."

Playing with children (NiDerLander, ThinkStock)

Infant care for one child costs $732 less per year than in-state tuition at a public college. Families with more than one child under age 5 could end up paying more for child care than they do for rent.

Bivens said the solution to growing child care costs would be to create programs similar to public colleges.

"There is a role the public sector can play in making college more affordable," he said. "We give money to state universities, there are federal Pell grants. There's lots of programs that make college more affordable... We really should be looking at childhood care the same way."

The Economic Policy Institute study suggests that if these changes are implemented parents could save $2,671 per year, which could boost New Jersey's economy.

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