Finding Affordable Child Care

According to the Children’s Defense Fund, the average cost of child care for a four-year old is $4,000-6,000+ a year. Some urban area centers can charge over $10,000 a year.

Finding affordable child care isn’t easy. Here is a “starter” list of resources and tips to help you on your search.

Programs and Resources – Local and State

  1. Start by contacting the local child care resource and referral agency in your state and area. Ask about state child care subsidies, eligibility information and how to apply for assistance. Also ask about local scholarship or tuition assistance programs.
  2. You can also contact the state agency directly to learn more about child care subsidies and eligibility information. Click here for a list of state child care assistance contacts.
  3. Contact local community centers like the YMCA, YWCA or religious organizations.
  4. Another option is the Head Start program. Head Start and Early Head Start are comprehensive child development programs which serve children from birth to age 5, pregnant women, and their families. They are child-focused programs and have the overall goal of increasing the school readiness of young children in low-income families. Click here to find a Head Start program in your area.
  5. If you or your spouse is an active/deployed member of the military, you may be eligible for Operation: Military Child Care subsidies or assistance through the Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood program.
  6. If you or your spouse is a veteran, you may be eligible for the Veteran Affairs Child Care Subsidy Program. This program is not available in all states. Click here to learn more.
  7. Also, remember to ask your employer about child care benefits at work.

Paying for Child Care

You may be able to receive tax benefits for child care depending on your income level. Visit the sites below to learn more.

  • Claiming the Child and Dependent Care Credit
    If you paid someone to care for a child or a dependent so you could work or look for work, you may be able to reduce your tax by claiming the Child and Dependent Care Credit on your federal income tax return. Also, twenty-four states have state tax programs related to the Child and Dependent Care Credit. Contact your state tax office to learn more.
  • Earned Income Tax Credit
    The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) sometimes called the Earned Income Credit (EIC), is a refundable federal income tax credit for low-income working individuals and families. Visit the above site to learn more.
  • National Women’s Law Center
    This site lists online resources for financial and tax assistance, welfare and the Dependent Care Assistance Program. The National Women’s Law Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to make the law and public policies work for women and their families.