Bringing a child into the world is a joyous occasion, but it also entails additional expenses. One of the priciest is child care. Now that you have your own place, you may not have free child care available to you. Luckily, there are several sources of financial assistance to help you to pay for the child care you need to get to work or attend classes.
Most state governments offer some form of child care assistance to parents whose income falls below a certain threshold and who require child care to attend work or school. Depending on the state in which you live and your income level, you may qualify for financial supplements that pay for some or all of your child care expenses. To apply for assistance, you will need to visit the local office of the Department of Social Services, Department of Human Services or the equivalent office for your state.
University and Employer Assistance
Some colleges and universities offer child-care assistance to attending students who require daytime child care and do not qualify for state assistance. For example, the University of Iowa offers a child-care subsidy to both undergraduate and graduate students with children, with first priority going to those parents with lower incomes. In addition, you may be able to apply for and receive federal Pell Grant funding through your university, which may be used to pay for child care. Some employers also offer child-care subsidies or on-site child-care programs for employees. Contact your Human Resources department to inquire about available benefits.
Supplements for Military Families
If you or your partner is active in the military, you may be eligible for financial child care assistance through the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies. NACCRRA subsidies will pay for a portion of your child care costs, with the exact amount of your subsidy based on family income level, branch of service and your child care expenses. Visit the NACCRRA website to apply electronically, or call 1-800-424-2246 for more information.
Local and regional chapters of the United Way sometimes offer child care subsidies to young parents who do not qualify for other forms of assistance but still require additional help to pay for child care. For example, the Florida Times-Union reports that parents living near Jacksonville with an annual income between 150 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level received such help from their local United Way in 2009. Children attending a day care provider affiliated with the organization Children, Inc. may also be eligible for assistance through the United Way. Contact your local chapter of the United Way for information about eligibility and local programs available.
Federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
When you file your federal taxes, you may be able to recoup a percentage of your child-care expenses by claiming the Child and Dependent Care Credit. You are only eligible if your child is under the age of 13 or physically or mentally handicapped. You may claim up to $3,000 of child-care expenses for one qualifying child and up to $6,000 for two or more qualifying children or dependents. The amount of money you will receive through this credit depends on your child-care expenses for the year and your adjusted gross income.
- Tennessee Department of Human Services: Child Care
- Virginia Department of Social Services: Child Care Assistance
- University of Iowa: Child Care Programs and Resources
- University of Utah: Child Care Coordinating Office
- National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies: Military Families
- Children Inc.: Tuition Assistance
- The Florida Times-Union: United Way Offers Grants for Quality Child Care
- Internal Revenue Service: Child and Dependent Care Credit