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Most low-income families and single mothers struggle to find affordable or free daycare. One of the most significant expenses when raising children is the cost of sending them to daycare. When parents need to look for work but don’t have anywhere to leave their kids safely or can’t afford daycare, they opt to keep them home, which increases their financial vulnerability even more.
- Programs like Head Start help low-income families with free daycare.
- If you are in the military, there are benefits that help with childcare.
- Some daycares use sliding fee scales which offer daycare based on your income.
- YMCA is a non-profit company dedicated to providing daycare across different states.
- If you are a student, you may be able to get a subsidy for childcare at some institutions.
- Childcare.gov is a site that helps parents find daycare facilities near them.
- Childcare aware is a government-funded program that helps parents find childcare close to where they work or live.
- State subsidies help parents pay for childcare and enable parents to work full-time.
- YWCA is also another organization that offers childcare for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers and has helped many families with childcare assistance.
How Can I Find Free Daycare Assistance Programs?
Many free child and free daycare assistance programs help families put their kids in daycare. Each state has programs to help single parents and low-income families with daycare. Places like your local schools and community centers may also offer free childcare.
Sometimes it can be challenging to get into one of these programs, or you may need to meet specific criteria to qualify for child and daycare assistance. This being said, there is help for families in need, and we’ve compiled a list of resources to help you find daycare assistance programs near you.
1. The Head Start Program
The Head Start is a program that was founded in 1981 to help low-income families and their kids to prepare children for school and offer free or affordable daycare for these families. Head Start includes the Early Head Start Program for infants and toddlers and offers summer programs.
Head Start educational programs are accessible for those whose income meets the poverty line or is below it as determined by the government. Homeless families and children in foster care also qualify for this program. This program is for children aged from 3-5 years old.
To apply for Early Head Start services, you can use their locator to find a program close to you.
2. Military Family Assistance
Members of the military and the department of defense get subsidies from the government. Eligibility requirements can vary, but military members will receive free assistance and child respite care programs. This program has helped more than 10 million families. You can visit the Childcare Aware website to learn more about how to get these benefits.
3. My Childcare
If you reside in California, you can use the My Childcare website to search for childcare near you. This map lists the closest childcare facilities near you and how many spots they have open for new applicants. Once you find a childcare center, you can call and enquire if they offer scholarships and free daycare or subsidized daycare.
4. Sliding Fee Scales
Some child and daycare centers offer fees based on a sliding scale. Getting a subsidy for childcare may cover a portion of the childcare costs, leaving you with a small amount to pay monthly. Finding a daycare that has a sliding scale fee structure means that they charge you based on your income. The sliding fee scale is a saving grace for low-income families.
To find local childcare centers that use a sliding scale fee structure, you can search for your top 5 local childcare centers and see which offer the best monthly fees.
5. Local YMCA Programs
YMCA is a non-profit organization that focuses on helping the community. They focus on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. A big part of this is offering childcare and early learning programs. These centers provide quality full-day and half-day learning and care for infants to preschoolers.
You can find your nearest center for childcare by using the YMCA locator. Their search function also allows you to search by facility and programs, which helps you find exactly what you need.
6. School-Sponsored Subsidies
If you are a student or your spouse is a student, you may be eligible to receive financial assistance for childcare through your university. Universities like Oregon State University offer a plan that helps to pay for childcare. Other universities also offer low-cost childcare on campus.
Some states also offer grants for degree students to help pay for childcare. Because these benefits vary from university to university, it’s best to enquire at your nearest university if they offer childcare benefits.
Childcare.gov allows you to search for childcare in your state. This is an excellent resource for finding childcare centers near you. You can also enquire about fees and if childcare centers offer assistance to low-income families. Some of these centers may offer subsidies, accept government subsidies, or be part of government programs.
8. Childcare Aware
Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies like Childcare Aware are funded by the government and are community-based programs that help parents find childcare near their home or work.
These services are free to use, and if you meet the requirements for free or subsidized childcare, the Child Care Resource & Referral agency will help guide you on who to contact. Childcare aware has helped over 150 000 families and worked with more than 60,000 childcare providers.
9. State-Granted Subsidies
The government provides money to states to help with the cost of childcare, but the amount of childcare and the number of subsidies varies widely from state to state. Most subsidies cater to children who are under the age of 13. There are also many regulations with these subsidies, and not all of them may offer daycare.
Most of these subsidies are issued through the Child Care and Development Block Grants.
Care.com is a site dedicated to helping you find caregivers. Although this is a paid service, there are ways of getting tax benefits and other forms of remuneration that cover childcare costs. This is an excellent option for parents that need childcare urgently and at the last minute. Besides childcare, they also offer senior care, tutoring, daycare, and housekeeping.
11. YWCA Programs
The YWCA has over 200 local associations across 45 states. The YWCA helps over 200,000 children each year through its affordable childcare programs. These programs cater to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, intending to educate children and help parents keep permanent employment. For programs and services offered near you, you can use the YWCA store locator on their website.
Finding government-subsidized daycare can be difficult. Each state has different qualifying criteria and income brackets, and it may be challenging to determine if you are eligible to receive benefits. However, many programs cater to low-income families, and there are many resources to help parents find daycare for their children.
Besides qualifying for daycare assistance, the government also offers tax benefits for parents paying for daycare for their children. Parents can be credited between 30-50% for childcare expenses per year.
To qualify for daycare assistance, you need to fall below the threshold. If you are over the threshold, you are unlikely to receive daycare assistance but may be able to find a local daycare that offers low-cost care.
How Do I Qualify For Childcare Assistance?
Childcare is one of the biggest costs parents face when raising children. Unfortunately, many daycare options cost more than the cost to clothe and house children. Due to this, there are a few childcare assistance programs to help low-income families, and the eligibility requirements vary from state to state. A few of these programs include:
- State-funded pre-kindergarten. State-funded kindergarten programs are available for children up until the age of 5. These programs are low-cost or no-cost, and eligibility varies depending on your state.
- Childcare financial assistance. Financial assistance can be in vouchers, certificates, and subsidies. States receive funding from the government and provide funding to low-income families. These types of programs help parents pay for childcare so they can work. Look for your state’s eligibility requirements using the locator and the “financial assistance for families” tab.
- Head Start and Early Head Start. The Head Start and Early Head Start daycare programs are accessible to families at no cost if they are low-income families. To find and apply for assistance, you can visit the Childcare.gov website and search for childcare in your state.
- Military childcare programs. There are a few programs that help military families pay for childcare. To see which benefits apply, you can visit the military benefits page.
You can find most of the information regarding the application for benefits can be found on the Childcare.gov website. In addition, you can filter the results based on the state you reside.
Can You Claim Childcare On Your Taxes?
There are a few options for claiming childcare on your taxes. The most common tax claim is the child-dependent care tax credit based on childcare expenses. The maximum credit is 35% of childcare expenses. This value is up to $3000 per child. The maximum credit can also be up to 50% of costs, up to $8000 for one child. These percentages are just a guideline; the amounts can vary based on income.
The total amount of credit earned can’t exceed your annual income. To claim the childcare credit, keep the receipts for a yearly period and submit them with your tax return. You will also need to file an IRS form 2441, Child And Dependant Care Expenses, with your tax return.
Another tax benefit is a dependent care account. The dependent care account allows you to put aside pre-tax dollars for daycare bills throughout the year. Not all employers offer this benefit, but this benefit is exempt from federal tax.
You will need to meet some requirements to qualify for childcare tax benefits. These include:
- All payments must have been for childcare only
- The childcare used for your children must have been used to enable you to work
- You’ll need to provide the childcare facility’s information on your tax return
- You should have earned income for the year
- More than half the cost of keeping a home must be paid by you
- Your child must be younger than 13
- Your child needs to live with you for more than half the year
- Your child needs to be a biological child, foster child, or adopted
What Is The Income Threshold For Child And Daycare Assistance?
Most subsidies and free childcare assistance is available for those within a certain income bracket. You can qualify for childcare assistance if your earnings fall below this threshold. The below table outlines the income threshold for childcare assistance.
|Size of family||Monthly income based on the poverty level|
The above table is a basic guideline on the threshold for most grants and subsidies. These guidelines can vary from state to state. If you fall below the above-listed figures, you have a good chance of qualifying for daycare assistance.
Are There Sibling Discounts With Daycare Assistance Programs?
Some daycare facilities and programs may offer sibling discounts if they are partially subsidized or low-cost facilities. However, sibling discounts may not apply to all daycares. It’s best to contact local daycare centers near you and find out if they are government funded and have an option for sibling discounts.