Childish endeavors

Lately, it seems like everyone is having babies.

Cute, adorable, squeezable, money-grubbing babies.

People often ask if I've thought about having children. Of course I've thought about having children. I've probably overthought it—made a budget, crunched the numbers and then gave up.

Food, health care, clothes, toys, hobbies, etc.—children are cherub-cheeked vampires who'll suck your bank account dry.

Seriously, I love kids, yet I'm also respectfully fearful of how much it costs to raise a healthy child.

According to an August report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average family will spend $241,080 to raise one child over the course of 18 years. That sum doesn't include college but does encompass what is the single biggest expense for many families: child care.

Those not able to take advantage of family assistance will likely fork over a huge chunk of their monthly salary to a licensed child-care facility. According to a 2012 report from Child Care Aware of America, an information hub for child-care resources, two-parent households in 35 states with an infant in day care can expect to pay more annually than they would for a year of in-state tuition at a four-year public college.

In California, day care costs a household approximately $11,823 annually—or nearly $1,000 a month. That's 14.6 percent of the median two-parent household's annual income and a whopping 42.9 percent of the median single parent's income.

Instead of posing cuts and restrictions to benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, lawmakers should instead devise ways to help families better afford basic needs such as food, shelter and care.

Raising a child isn't a luxury, it's a right.