2023 Cost Guide for Houston Daycares and Preschools
Cost of child care in Houston, TX
The right child care is an investment that can make a lasting impact on your little one’s life. But finding and choosing the best early education provider in Houston can be a difficult decision -- and an expensive one.
To help in your search, we found and analyzed websites for 1,432 daycares and preschools across Houston. We brought it all together in this guide to give you a sense of the range of prices you might see as well as the averages that you’ll likely pay based on your needs.
For full-time, full-day care in Houston, the average cost across age groups ranged from $203 to $3,486 per month -- with an average price of $1,087 per month.
We know that cost is just one factor in determining the best daycare or preschool for your child. And, many elements go into a provider’s cost: curriculum, student-teacher ratios, schedule, location, facilities, educational training of teachers, etc.
We hope this guide will help you prepare for the type of investment you’ll be making. Depending on when you’re starting your search, just consider that tuition continues to rise. Between 2022 and 2023, we saw an average increase of 9%.
What’s included in this guide?
What does daycare cost near me? A breakdown by neighborhood.
How much does infant daycare cost in Houston? (0-18 months old)
How much does toddler daycare cost in Houston? (18-36 months old)
How much does preschool cost in Houston?(3-5 years old)
How much does Pre-K cost in Houston? (4-5 years old)
What does daycare cost near me?
Most affordable Houston metro area neighborhoods
Based on monthly average costs across schools, we noticed that the most affordable Houston metro area zip codes for full-time, full-day care were:
More expensive neighborhoods
On the more expensive end of the spectrum, the Houston metro area zip codes with higher average monthly costs for full-time, full-day care were:
How much does infant daycare cost in Houston?
Most child care centers define “infant” as less than 18 months old. Infant daycare in Houston costs, on average, $1,082 per month for full-time, full-day care.
Full-day rates for infant daycare in Houston
5 days a week: Average is $1,082. Ranges from $300 to $2,382 per month.
3 days a week: Average is $740. Ranges from $405 to $1,465 per month.
2 days a week: Average is $540. Ranges from $315 to $1,162 per month.
Half-day rates for infant daycare in Houston
5 days a week: Average is $816. Ranges from $210 to $1,997 per month.
3 days a week: Average is $460. Ranges from $365 to $960 per month.
2 days a week: Average is $340. Ranges from $305 to $730 per month.
Drop-in rates for infant daycare in Houston
In Houston, hourly drop-in rates for infant daycare average $13 per hour. Daily rates for infants average $57 per day.
How much does toddler daycare cost in Houston?
Child care center websites in Houston often define “toddler” as any child between the ages of 18 and 36 months old. Toddler daycare in Houston costs, on average, $1,067 per month for full-time, full-day care. We’ve generally seen that costs for toddlers are cheaper than for infants, since at the higher end of the age range, they require slightly less dedicated attention and many times are potty trained. Heads-up: some providers will require that your child is potty trained for certain ages, while others do not -- so just make sure to ask.
Full-day rates for toddler daycare in Houston
5 days a week: Average is $1,067. Ranges from $300 to $3,738 per month.
3 days a week: Average is $713. Ranges from $405 to $1,427 per month.
2 days a week: Average is $492. Ranges from $305 to $1,031 per month.
Half-day rates for toddler daycare in Houston
5 days a week: Average is $852. Ranges from $465 to $1,998 per month.
3 days a week: Average is $499. Ranges from $365 to $960 per month.
2 days a week: Average is $352. Ranges from $305 to $730 per month.
Drop-in rates for toddler daycare in Houston
In Houston, hourly drop-in rates for toddler daycare average $12 per hour. Daily rates for toddlers average $61 per day.
How much does preschool cost in Houston?
Across most preschool websites in Houston, the average age for preschool is typically defined as between 3 and 5 years old. Preschool in Houston costs, on average, $1,070 per month for full-time, full-day programs.
Full-day rates for preschools in Houston
5 days a week: Average is $1,070. Ranges from $300 to $3,738 per month.
3 days a week: Average is $654. Ranges from $400 to $1,641 per month.
2 days a week: Average is $452. Ranges from $316 to $1,041 per month.
Half-day rates for preschools in Houston
5 days a week: Average is $802. Ranges from $350 to $2,189 per month.
3 days a week: Average is $418. Ranges from $275 to $745 per month.
2 days a week: Average is $292. Ranges from $225 to $545 per month.
How much does Pre-K cost in Houston?
In Houston, the average cost for private Pre-K is $1,129 per month for full-time, full-day programs.
You might be wondering, “What is the difference between preschool and Pre-K?” Preschool is usually offered to children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old. Pre-K is more of a transition from preschool to kindergarten, and is usually offered for children between the ages of 4 and 5 years old. Pre-kindergartens are also sometimes attached to elementary schools and are timed for the school year right before kindergarten. This helps families more smoothly transition to kindergarten.
In Houston, there are both private and public Pre-K options. We dive into both of them here.
Private Pre-K costs in Houston
Full-day rates for Pre-K in Houston
5 days a week: Average is $1,129. Ranges from $200 to $4,388 per month.
3 days a week: Average is $649. Ranges from $405 to $1,305 per month.
2 days a week: Average is $382. Ranges from $316 to $717 per month.
Half-day rates for Pre-K in Houston
5 days a week: Average is $811. Ranges from $350 to $2,013 per month.
3 days a week: Average is $545. Ranges from $275 to $1,522 per month.
2 days a week: Average is $279. Ranges from $250 to $510 per month.
Public Pre-K options in Houston
The Houston Independent School District (ISD) offers free, full-day pre-kindergarten to eligible 3 and 4 years olds across 166 elementary school locations in Houston. Preference for available slots is first given to 4 year olds. You can check out the eligibility criteria here for the free program. If you do not qualify for free pre-k, there is also a tuition-based option at these same schools. If all eligible students are enrolled, and slots remain open, you can apply for a tuition-based spot. The program costs $630.56 per month, for 9 months. You can see more FAQs on tuition-based options here.
What are the most common daycare and preschool fees in Houston?
Top 3 fees
As we searched through hundreds of Houston early education websites, we noticed a lot of different fees. But the 3 most common annual fees were:
Application (or waitlist) fee
Enrollment (or registration) fee*
When we combined these 3 fees together for daycares and preschools, we saw that total fees ranged from $25 to $2,620 -- but the average was $515 per year.
Diving deeper into each of these fees:
Application (or waitlist fee). Application fees ranged from $20 to $1,800, with an average of $218 for each new student.
Enrollment (or registration) fee*. Enrollment fees ranged from $25 to $2,000, with an average of $325.
Supply fee. Supply fees ranged from $35 to $1,500, with an average of $322. There were a few child care providers that mentioned an itemized list of school supplies was available, in lieu of the supply fee. So, it might be worth asking if you can purchase supplies (and shop around and save) instead of paying the fee.
* A number of centers had a “facility fee” that was due at enrollment/registration. For our calculations, we included this facility fee in the enrollment/registration fee.
Meals. Some early education providers may provide meals. If they do, ask if this is already included in the tuition. We saw a few cases where meals were an added fee.
Deposit. Although not technically an additional fee, we have seen a number of daycares and preschools require a deposit. We’ve seen that this is many times one month of tuition that is later applied towards the last month’s tuition. Make sure to ask when and how the deposit will be applied or returned.
Penalty fees. There are a number of fees when things don’t exactly go as planned. Here are the main ones we came across when searching each of the websites:
Early or late arrival fee. If you drop off your little one before the scheduled time, or are running late to pick them up, there might be a fee for that. We typically saw a fee of $1 per minute.
Late payments. These ranged from either a per-day fee (e.g. $10 for each day late) and/or a total fee of $25 or $50.
Returned check. Usually around $25-50.
No lunch fee. If meals are not provided, and you forget to pack a lunch for your child, there may be a fee. This one wasn’t as common, though. And the fee we saw was usually around $5/day.
Sibling discount. The most common discount we saw in Houston was the sibling discount. Maybe having more siblings isn’t that bad after all. The sibling discount ranged from 2% to 28%, but mostly commonly, we saw 10% to be the standard.
Lump sum payment discount. Preschool and daycare is expensive. But, if you have the means to pay the annual cost in one lump sum, some schools will give you a discount for that. If it’s not listed on the website, make sure to ask. Where it was listed, we usually saw it range from 1-5% off.
Absence and closures. Providers seem to be divided on this one. If your child will be out due to an illness or a vacation, or if the school is closed for holidays or weather, you may be wondering if you’ll get a credit for those days. Definitely make sure to read your handbook -- or just ask the school. Most often, a school’s policy will likely be that no adjustments will be made. But, we did see a few schools that offered vacation credit or pro-rated certain weeks.
How to get subsidized child care in Houston
Paying for child care is expensive, and Houston does provide options for families to receive financial assistance for care. In Harris County, aid is provided by Workforce Solutions, in partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission. You can check your eligibility and see instructions for applying for aid here. Financial assistance is subject to the program's current funds, so exact benefit is hard to calculate in advance, but qualified families are encouraged to apply to get details on what assistance they can receive.