About Low-Income Child Care Programs

Low income child care programs are available to two-parent and single-parent families that need to find resources to care for their children while they are at work. Whether families need caretakers to watch their children during the summer months, weekdays or evening hours, various options are available. However, these programs are not always cost-effective, and families can easily spend sizable portions of their paychecks on daycare programs for their children. As a result, low income child care opportunities have arisen to help ensure that parents do not need to skip work to take care of their dependents.

Working parents who earn little income today have more child care assistance opportunities than past generations did. Government-sponsored and independent financial assistance programs are available across the country to help ensure that low-earning families can afford adequate daycare and aftercare options. Regardless of whether households need free daycare for low income parents or enrollment discounts, these funds are available. The sections below highlight some of these programs, and also provide explanations for how families can enroll in these support initiatives and save money while caring for their children.

What government programs offer low income child care?

The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is a federal initiative that is available to families with limited financial resources who need child care assistance. This program was created primarily through the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act. More specifically, this resource is available to households who need help affording child care for times when they are completing the following tasks:

  • Attending work
  • Receiving professional-based training sessions
  • Enrolling in educational classes or coursework

These child care and daycare discounts are available to households in states, territories and Native American tribal communities. When families enroll in this program, they may be qualified to receive discount vouchers that, in some instances, could result in free daycare for low income families. Alternatively, enrollees may qualify to receive grants or tailored contracts with care providers to help households receive the best benefits possible. Furthermore, families can use their benefits through the CCDF to choose their own child care providers. However, facilities need to meet statewide and federal requirements, which include:

  • Safety and health training for staff members.
  • Knowledge about controlling the spread of infectious diseases among children.
  • Facilities that are up to date on relevant codes and inspection requirements.

Learn About Child Care and Daycare Discounts for Military Families

Child Care Aware of America provides military discount child care opportunities to families who served in the armed forces. This benefit program helps parents who served in the Navy, Air Force, Marines or Army. The Office of Child Care (OCC) funds this network, and enrollees can use the initiative’s assistance programs to help offset child care costs for active duty and Army Reserve military personnel.

Additionally, prospective enrollees for this daycare discounts program need to keep in mind that these benefits are available to military personnel who need civilian care for their children while on base. Generally, families need to utilize these benefits because there is not adequate care available for them where they are located, so they must find their own services. In order to receive free child day care for military families through this program, the applying households need to have low collective incomes. Once petitioners qualify to receive these benefits, the fee assistance benefits are paid directly to the care providers. While there is no multiple child discount for daycare, families could qualify to receive $1,500 in benefits each month for each child who meets the requirements to receive these allotments.

Find Out About Daycare Discounts and Reimbursements

In some instances, families may learn that they do not qualify to receive low income daycare benefits through the government or independent organizations. However, this does not mean that households have no way to reduce their child care costs each year. Some families may qualify for the child care tax credit, which they can file for each year when filing their taxes. This benefit does not reduce the amount of money families need to pay on a regular basis for child care expenses. However, it does make it possible for families to receive reimbursement on daycare and summer camp expenses that they already paid throughout the year.

This credit is not only available to low income child care recipients and families with limited funds can also make use of this reimbursement. However, this credit does require that families use child care services for children who are 12 years of age or younger. Furthermore, there are some limits regarding who can provide care for these minors in order for their parents to receive credit. Specifically, families cannot file for this reimbursement if they paid the following individuals to watch their children:

  • Current spouses
  • Ex-husbands or ex-wives who are the children’s biological parents
  • Any other children who are younger than 18 years of age

Additionally these credits on child care options for low income families also have specific eligibility requirements for the families filing for reimbursement. For example, parents or guardians must:

  • Have worked and earned income during the year they are applying for credit.
  • Have needed the child care services so they could go to work or search for employment opportunities.
  • File a joint tax return, if the parents or guardians are married.

Depending on where individuals work, they may also be able to save money on child care expenses with the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA). These benefits are offered through workers’ employers, and they allow enrollees to set aside certain amounts of their earnings each paycheck and place the money into specific accounts. Furthermore, these contributions are moved pre-tax, so account holders can allocate these funds to their DCFSAs before they need to pay taxes on them.  Families can open these accounts to pay for various expenses, including:

  • Before and after school care.
  • Preschool.
  • Summer camp.
  • Daycare programs.
  • Nanny and babysitting fees.

Technically, families do not receive any direct daycare discounts through this program. However, families can save money on taxes each year by having these child care funds directly deposited in their DCFSAs.