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    Choosing Child Care - Paying for Child Care

    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 financial assistance.

    Child care 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 4-year-olds.
    • 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 friend.
    • 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.
    • Child care 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 own.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 09, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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