Childcare is often one of the most expensive bills a family pays, especially today during the pandemic. More families need childcare or extended childcare since more children are home or learning remotely rather than in school.
What if you can’t afford the childcare costs? There are many great resources at your disposal.
Every state receives federal funds to help families pay for childcare. Every state has different requirements regarding income limits and how to qualify. Check with your state’s Division of Childcare or similar department to see if you qualify.
If you’re a college student and need help with childcare, check with your campus. Many campuses have onsite childcare facilities for low rates for students and teachers.
Ask your employer if they offer employer-assisted dependent care. It works like a Health Savings Account. Any money you contribute is pre-tax. This lowers your current tax liability. You may use the funds on eligible childcare fees and if you do, you won’t pay taxes on the funds. This lowers the overall cost of your childcare fees and puts more money in your wallet.
Many childcare centers work on a sliding fee scale. They base your fees on your household income. The less income you make, the lower fees you pay.
If you can’t find a sliding fee scale center, ask about other payment assistance options such as payment plans or sibling discounts.
Many centers offer special discounts or rates for military members or veterans. Check with the centers in your area to see who offers a deal.
If you pay for childcare, you may be able to deduct the fees on your taxes as a tax credit. A tax credit directly reduces the amount of taxes you owe, and can even bring your liability down to $0.
Many local church programs offer free or low-cost childcare services. If they don’t offer childcare services, they often have a reserve fund for families in need to help you offset the cost of childcare services.
Check with your child’s school. They often work with local organizations to offer affordable childcare services before and after school. During the pandemic, many offer full-day care inside the school as well that oversee children while they remote learn during the school day.
If you need help affording childcare, turn to your state’s resources first. They should be able to point you in the right direction to the resources available in your area. Whether you are a low-income family or the cost of childcare in your area is too high, there are resources to make it more affordable.
If you can’t find assistance, look to the parents in your local neighborhood. Many families put together a co-op and help one another out, especially during the trying times the pandemic created for many families.