Learn About 6 Low-Income Child Care Resources and Programs

According to a report made by Child Care Aware in 2017, the cost of child care is often one of the most costly expenses families have.

In fact, for many households, child care exceeds the costs of housing or food.

Therefore, child care resources are crucial to low-income families, especially in single-parent households. Fortunately, there are several federal, state and local outreach programs and resources that can assist with the cost of child care. 

By learning more about these opportunities, you will have a greater understanding of the various resources and programs that you can turn to when you need help.

Several of the options that may be available to you can be acquired at a low cost or for free. Additionally, learning about the tax credits that you may qualify for can help you regain some of the cost of child care during tax season.

1. About Federal Child Care Subsidies and Daycare Vouchers

If you need child care resources, it is crucial that you learn more about about state-run subsidy programs that you could qualify for. These resources are commonly referred to as vouchers or free assistance.

Furthermore, they are available to qualifying low-income families who need help with the cost of child care so that parents can attend work or school.

You can learn more about subsidies available in your state here. Eligibility requirements for state-administered programs vary by state. However, you generally must meet income-based requirements and have a qualifying child living within your home in order to be eligible.

In addition to receiving information about child care assistance, you may also find other federal and state programs that you could qualify for. These additional programs may help you reduce the cost of other monthly expenses, thus saving your family money overall. 

2. Learn About Head Start and Early Head Start Federal Programs

Head Start and Early Head Start programs are income-based assistance programs offered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In addition to income limits, families must meet local requirements that vary between communities. 

Furthermore, families need to remember that these programs are for children who are five years of age or younger. The programs are designed to assist with the emotional, social and mental development of children, as well as help prepare them for school.

Additionally, Head Start programs promote health and wellness and provide some medical and behavioral screenings. As a result, these programs can provide children with valuable resources that will help them throughout their lives. 

To apply, you must contact your local Head Start or Early Head Start office. You may be asked to provide documentation to support your application, such as proof of your family’s income.

3. Find Out About State-Funded Pre-Kindergarten Programs

Your family may qualify for child care resources for state-funded pre-kindergarten programs. To enroll,  your family must qualify as low-income, and your child needs to be between three and five years of age.

These programs provide early education services at little to no cost for qualifying families. 

To find out if a state-funded prekindergarten program is available in your community, you will need to contact your local Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) agency.

Your CCR&R office may also be able to direct you to additional assistance programs that you may qualify for.

4. About Military Assistance Programs Through Child Care Aware of America

Child Care Aware offers financial assistance towards the cost of childcare to qualifying military service members. However, eligibility requirements vary by service branch. In some cases, individuals may be placed on a waiting list until assistance becomes available.

Therefore, it is important that families learn more about the qualifications for these military assistance programs and apply as soon as they need help. 

You can learn more about child care assistance opportunities for your military service branch here.

When submitting an application, be prepared to provide documentation to support the information that you provide, including documentation regarding your military service. 

5. How to Find Low Income Daycare and Resources Within Your Community 

Additional child care resources may be available to you, depending on your local community and your employer or university. If you are currently employed, you can check with the company you work for to determine whether or not they offer child care resources.

Some employers provide special discounts towards childcare costs through local daycares while other employers provide daycare services.

Additionally, some employers provide assistance programs that allow employees to place a portion of each of their paychecks into a tax-free fund that can only be used towards the cost of child care. 

If you are searching for low income daycare options while attending college or a university, check with your university or campus about any child care that is offered on campus. Campuses that do offer child care services commonly provide special discounts to staff and students.

In some cases, students and employees may need to meet income-based requirements to qualify. 

You may be able to find other low income daycare opportunities within your local community. Some child care providers offer families sliding fee scales to make these services more affordable.

Others may offer additional payment plan options. If you have more than one child that you need to enroll in daycare, check to see if your local providers offer discounts for families that are enrolling more than one child into a daycare program.

Finally, there are many child care providers that offer special discounts, such as ones for military families. 

6. Learn About Federal Tax Credits to Aid With Child Care Resources and Costs

Child care resources are not strictly limited to outreach programs and federal, state and community resources. There are two notable tax credits that may assist you in regaining some of your annual child care costs when it comes time for tax season. 

The earned income tax credit is a benefit that is available to families with low or moderate income. You may also be able to qualify for the child and dependent care tax credit, which is available to provide assistance to families with the cost of child care.

This tax credit is available to parents or guardians that need to pay for child care services so they can work or search for employment. The tax credit is primarily available for child care expenses of dependents who are younger than 13 years of age.