Programs like Head Start have been improving children’s education t nd helping families find affordable daycare options for decades. However, Child Care Aware reports that, in 2017, affordable child care resources are still scarce and that basic child care is one of the most expensive items budgeted for, more than housing, college and food costs. Therefore, other financial assistance programs have been developed to help families pay for child care and other educational expenses they might not otherwise be able to afford.

To learn more about your options for child care without having to forgo other necessary expenses, read the following sections. You might find that there are plenty of resources available via the child care resource center that can enable you to make an informed decision about your child’s future.

Types of Child Care Resource and Referral Centers

Luckily, thanks to Head Start and other financial relief programs funded by the federal and local governments, there are plenty of child care programs to enroll your children in, depending on your budget and your need for financial assistance.

Of course, some resources offer more discounts than others, so be aware of the total costs when selecting a daycare option for your children. Following is a list of child care resources that are well-suited to watch young children while you are at work:

  • Formal child care resource center or daycare building. These institutions provide all-day care for working families and may offer some developmental programs as a bonus. Additionally, meals and socialization activities are commonplace.
  • Home daycare. This type of daycare option provided by caregivers in their own homes and may cater to many children at once. Overnight child care and other unique care opportunities may be able to be offered by in-home caretakers.
  • Pre-school or kindergarten educational programs. This low income daycare option is focused on the educational advancement of children while ensuring their safety during normal work hours. These programs are often age-restricted.
  • Before or after school care programs. These are supervised child care programs that take place before or after normal school hours and during school holidays. Typically, these are run by community and private organizations.
  • In-home daycare. In these instances, child care professionals come to a family’s home to watch children in their own environment. This is a standard practice for families with disabled children or unusual working hours.
  • Traditional babysitting. As opposed to in-home daycare services, babysitting involves employing the help of an unprofessional caregiver. This is one of the most common child care options used, but it does not offer much in terms of financial assistance as they are not often regulated.
  • Live-in or live-out nannies. Nannies undertake all the responsibilities of caring for children in a home in addition to maintaining the home’s upkeep. Nanny sharing may be a cheaper way to find a nanny and obtain low income daycare.

Government Child Care Resource Center Options

Daycare vouchers and the local childcare programs are considered government assistance programs that aid in the provision of child safety and care services. A breakdown of all child care resources and options that have government funding is as follows:

  • Head Start and Early Head Start. These are free learning and development services for low-income families. The programs welcome children ages five and younger and families with household incomes at or less than the Federal Poverty Level. However, children receiving other public assistance, in foster care or who are homeless may be eligible regardless of their household income.
  • State-funded prekindergarten. This program provides child care and school readiness teaching to children ages three to five. Only certain states offer pre-K programs, so check your Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency to ensure there is a local program for your children.
  • Military fee assistance programs. If you or another member of your family is an active or retired member of the U.S. military, you may be eligible for child care fee assistance as a result. Managed by Child Care Aware of America, this program has more than 10,000 licensed caretakers throughout the U.S.

Child Care Resource and Referral Programs for Work and School

Another type of daycare assistance programs that Child Care Aware advertises is work or school programs. Following are the types of child care resources offered to employees and students of educational institutions throughout the U.S.:

  • Assistance for high schoolers. If you have a child and need child care services in order to get your diploma or GED, then this type of assistance is for you. You may be awarded a subsidy if you qualify for assistance.
  • College or university care. Some services may be available to care or daycare vouchers for children on college campuses while students, faculty and other staff members are working. While you may qualify for child care based on your needs, your school must offer these services to its students.
  • Employer-assisted care for dependents. Companies may provide free or discounted child care resources and services onsite for their employees as an incentive or benefit of working with them.

Other employer resources you may be entitled to include onsite child care and discounts on care at certain companies. It is always advisable to ask your employer about complimentary daycare options or discounts when possible.

Local and Provider-Specific Child Care Resource and Referral Assistance

Low income daycare options may also be specific to the provider of those services and/or its companies. These discounts and child care assistance offers are given based on your affiliation with daycare companies and local organizations. Here are some examples of local and provider-specific child care resources and assistance options:

  • Sliding fee scale. This allows families to pay child care companies or professionals based on their gross income rather than a flat rate for services.
  • Local scholarships. You may apply for local scholarships through nonprofit organizations or child care providers to help cover the costs of the services.
  • Sibling discount. If you have more than one child who needs child care services, consider enrolling them in the same program, if possible, to reap the benefits of sibling discounts.

Child Care Resource Center Tribal Programs

Native Hawaiian, Alaskan and American programs make it more affordable for members of tribes and tribal organizations to receive child care by offering specific grants to states for enrolling Native families in Head Start and other early education programs for kids.

Tax Credits for Child Care Resource and Referral Programs

Using your tax refund is a great way to save money on child care resources, and the child and dependent care tax credit and earned income tax credit help you do just that. Learn more about how you can earn a higher tax return by claiming your child care expenses on your next return by visiting the official Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website.