The reasonable pay for childcare jobs depends on your area — some parts of the east or west coast charge a lot for child care because the cost of living and salaries are significantly higher whereas places in the Deep South or mid-west may charge less because it’s not as expensive to live there and the salaries are generally lower. The adult-child ratio will also affect the average cost — a lower adult-child ratio means that more staff is required which translates to a higher cost for child care. Also, if you’re looking for infant or toddler care (which you are if your child is 18 months old), the cost is usually higher than it would be for a preschooler.
The qualifications of the provider and the expectations for child care also contribute to the salary. If you want someone who knows CPR and first aid with a modicum of training in child development and activities, plus experience and maturity, with responsibilities such as preparing meals, field trips, art or other activities, you need to pay that person a decent wage — if you’re expecting that person to come to your home, you’ll also have social security and possible health benefits to consider. In any case, regardless of the area and regardless of home or center environment, IMHO, a qualified, competent, trained child care provider should START at $8-12 per hour — they probably should make even more than that because child care is such a valuable service, but American society doesn’t seem to think so.