Budgeting for child care takes
work. Plan ahead and think about your future child care expenses as far in
advance as possible. Keep in mind that it may take time to process applications
or that there may be a waiting list, especially if you are trying to qualify for
referral agencies or other experts (such as some state or federal government agencies) can help you research your options for child care financial aid. Some general options may include:1
State child care subsidies. Guidelines vary by state, but generally low-income families who are working or in school may be eligible for assistance.
Local programs. United Way, local
government, community groups, and faith-based organizations are all potential
sources of financial help.
Employer/university support. Some employers
and universities offer child care scholarships, child care discounts, or reduced
rates at on-site facilities.
Child care program assistance. Some
group child care providers offer scholarships, discounts, or pricing according
to your income.
Pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) programs. Many school
districts offer free or low-cost educational programs for 3- and
Head Start and Early Start programs. Federal and state-funded programs may offer part-time or full-time free child care and other services for families who meet federal income guidelines.
Tax credits. You may be allowed state and federal tax credits for child care expenses. Specific programs and amounts depend on your household earnings, family size, and other factors.
Dependent Care Assistance Programs. This is a program offered by some employers that allows you to have money taken out of your paycheck tax-free each year. The money is put in a special account for you to be reimbursed for child care expenses as they are billed.
Brainstorm ideas about ways you might be
able to reduce the number of hours of child care you need or about ways to pay
for it, such as:
Sharing a nanny with a neighbor or a
Pursuing a flexible schedule at work that allows you to
juggle child care and spend less. For example, you may ask if you can work 4
days a week for 10 hours and have an extra day off.
cooperatives. If you need only part-time child care, you may be able to work
some hours caring for other children at the same time as you care for your