Child Care Assistance Programs in the U.S.
Millions of parents in the United States struggle to find affordable and quality care for their children. The costs of childcare can be expensive, but fortunately there are federal, state and local programs to help parents who need assistance. Although many of these programs are geared towards single mothers, there are opportunities for all parents to receive aid.
The most predominate and well-known federal program is Head Start, which helps prepare young children for regular schooling. The program is designed to enhance social and cognitive development by providing services related to health, nutrition, education and social skills. Head Start assists families with children ages 3-5.
Similarly, Early Head Start is for infants and toddlers, from pre-birth to the age of 3. The goal of this program is to promote healthy family habits through education.
Head Start programs are generally for limited-income families who receive aid through Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Children from foster homes or homeless families also usually qualify, as well as those below poverty level. In some cases, even families who are technically above poverty levels may enroll in Head Start.
There may also be options available for childcare assistance at the state level. Although it varies from state-to-state, most aid programs are administered through the Department of Human Services or a similar agency.
To qualify for most state programs, families must meet certain income guidelines or demonstrate that they need childcare in order to go to work. These programs often come with age stipulations as well, such as limiting care to only children under the age of 13.
States commonly run childcare assistance through a voucher program. When this is the case, a family in need will receive a certain amount of money, or a voucher, to help pay for the services of a local daycare or preschool.
In addition to federal and state aid, some local governments provide additional assistance for childcare. These programs are usually run through city or county social services or public health agencies. To find out more about the availability of these programs, contact a social worker in your community.
ChildcareCenter.us has a free and complete online listing of providers, including reviews from parents that help others find quality, subsidized childcare locations. The site also features contact information for local referral resources so parents can find places to get additional information in their respective counties.
The government has a lot of resources to help families in need take care of their children. If you’re looking for assistance, make sure you check into all of your options at every level.