High quality child care is often the most expensive item in a family’s budget, ahead even of the rent or a mortgage. Child Care Aware of America, an advocacy group, estimates that full-time, center-based child care for an infant averages nearly $15,000 a year in Maryland. That’s almost 13 percent of the annual income of a typical married family, and for single parents — the group for whom child care is an utter necessity — nearly 40 percent of annual income. In recent years, Maryland’s subsidy program has barely made a dent. Income eligibility requirements had not been increased in years, so a family of four could only make $35,702 to qualify. The program had not been adequately funded, so even those at the upper end of that scale couldn’t actually get vouchers. And the reimbursement amounts had so badly failed to keep pace with rising costs that, at one point, they were sufficient to cover fees at just 9 percent of the state’s child care providers. Recent changes enacted by the governor and legislature will double income limits for the subsidy program and increase reimbursement rates so that, within a few years, they will cover the costs of 60 percent of the state’s providers.