Paying for child care can be one of the highest expenses a family can incur. The cost can range from 10% to 15% of a family’s total income. If you find it difficult to pay for quality, affordable care, there are resources available to help. Some families need to consider the cost when deciding if mom is going back to work.
Child care costs may vary widely based on such factors as the type of care, the age of the child, how many children, and where you live by state or even by neighborhood. Child care centers may offer a sliding scale or discounts for having more than one child enrolled in their program. They may also offer a discount if you volunteer or work at the center for a specified amount of time.
Contact your State’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Child Care Resource office to see if you are eligible to apply for assistance. Based upon your income and your needs, you may qualify for a stipend, subsidy, or have your child care expenses paid in full. In a search engine, type in “state child care assistance” to see what programs are offered in your state.
Most states require you to show that you need childcare in order to work, attend school or to receive training. Also, your child must be under a certain age, your income must be below a pre-determined amount, and your child needs to be enrolled in a participating program.
Contact your State’s Unemployment Commission, as they may provide assistance for child care costs. If your state offers a 2-1-1 support line, they may be able to direct you to local resources and information on getting help paying for child care. Click here for a free booklet offered by the Federal government.
Employers may offer Employer-Sponsored Child Care, so be sure to ask if they offer on-site or off-site child care. They may also extend flexible benefits or reimbursement accounts, referral services through the human resources department, and flexible work schedules to reduce or eliminate the need for child care.
The Child Care Tax Credit offered by the federal government may also be available to you if you qualify. You can claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit of up to $3000.00 for one child and up to $6000.00 for two or more children, depending on your income. The lower your income, the higher percentage of child care costs may be eligible.
Another federal benefit is the flexible spending account or FSA. These accounts help to cover medical expenses from pre-elected income that becomes tax-exempt. For more information visit FSA account rules. Many federal grants are also available, visit http://www.federalgrantswire.com/ or http://www.grants.gov/ to learn more.
If you are a student in need of child care assistance, you can file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The grant will be awarded based upon your income and your financial needs. If you are awarded grant money, it can be used for child care expenses.
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