How to Find Information About Local child Care Assistance Programs
In single parent households with an employed parent or households in which both parents are employed outside of the home, child care costs can make up a significant portion of the monthly budget. For lower income families, expenses related to childcare can be prohibitive, but there are programs available which provide some financial assistance for child care fees to eligible families. The average cost of center-based care in the United States is $11,666 per year, but costs do vary from state to state. Depending upon the state in which a lower-income family resides, costs may range from a low of $3,582 to a high of $18.773. The higher end of this scale can make up the majority of a worker’s income if they’re employed full-time in a minimum wage position. For these families, the services of child care assistance programs on the local, state and federal level may be the only way of making such employment financially feasible.
Learning More About State and Local Child Care Assistance Programs
The majority of low-income families who are in need of child care assistance programs will find the bulk of available help through state and local channels. Local programs may vary, depending upon private charitable donations and existing community-based initiatives, but state funding is typically available through the same channels which administer Federal Child Care and Development grands. The eligibility requirements for an individual household will be determined at the state level, which means the criteria can vary significantly from one state to the next. The most effective and efficient way to learn more about individual availability is the contact the regulating agency in a particular state to explore the application process.
Depending upon the state in which a lower-income family is seeking assistance, applications may be accepted by mail or telephone. Most communities will have child care resource agencies, which also provide information about existing programs and assistance with the application process. Depending upon the type of assistance sought, families often have the option of selecting authorized faith-based organizations which include religious training and activities as part of the daily curriculum. Some state programs may also provide subsidies for private, in-home care or a home-based daycare center.
Parents who are preparing to apply for state-based child care assistance programs should collect the four most recent pay stubs for everyone in the household who is currently working. Additionally, proof of all income received due to child support, adoption subsidies, alimony, Social Security, SSI, Veteran’s Administration benefits, retirement or disability benefits, Worker’s Compensation and Unemployment Compensation. Proof of income and education enrollment documentation requirements may vary depending upon the state of residence. To determine qualification criteria and eligibility requirements, parents should contact program administrative branches in their state.
Federal Child Care Assistance
Most federal assistance for child care and low income families comes from tax credits and deductions, since funding for direct subsidies is paid to state agencies who will then regulate assistance for the low-income residents of that state. Federal funding also supports Head Start programs for children of low-income families who are of preschool age, while after school programs backed by federal funding can provide assistance for families with older children.
The Federal Office of Child Care does not distribute funding directly to needy families, instead working with tribal, state and territory governments to fund programs on the local level. Programs and partnerships between the Office of Child Care and local governments provide children in low-income families from birth through twelve years of age with access to quality childcare through the Child Care and Development fund investments on a local level.
Child Care Assistance and Funding
While state-run and federally funded programs are typically available throughout an entire state or territory, there may be local initiatives which provide funding directly to authorized child care providers or to low-income families. These community initiatives may be privately or publicly funded, and may not be extended beyond the scope of a municipal area. Local child care agencies and charitable organizations can be reliable sources of information regarding these programs, some of which could be used in tandem with state programs or to provide assistance to families whose needs are currently going unmet by state, territory or tribal funding initiatives.
Through local child care assistance programs, parents in lower-income households can obtain access to the reliable care their family needs in order to facilitate a return to the workforce. Both parents and child care providers should make an effort to carefully research eligibility requirements in their state and local programs, allowing all involved parties to make informed decisions which are well suited to the unique needs of not only individual families, but also their communities as a whole.