7 Sources for 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 in your search.

Programs and Resources – Local and State

  1. Contact the local child care resource and referral agency in your state and area. Ask about state child-care subsidies, eligibility information, application assistance information, local scholarship and tuition assistance programs.
  2. Contact your state agency directly to learn more about child-care subsidies and eligibility information. Click here for a list of state child-care assistance contacts under the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF).
  3. Contact local community centers like the YMCA, YWCA or religious organizations.
  4. Check into the Head Start and Early Head Start program — comprehensive child development programs serving children from birth to age 5, pregnant women and their families with 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 help through  Child Care Aware® of America’s Military and DoD Child Care Assistance. Child Care Aware has partnered with the United States Military and Department of Defense to serve and support their families through the Child Care Fee Assistance Programs. Go to Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R Search) to find child-care options and a map for state-by-state resources.
  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.
  7. 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 making the law and public policies work for women and their families.