Affordable Child Care Options While You Are at Work

Unless you work from home, you probably need to pay for some type of child care, if you have young children and work during the day.

However, the rising cost of child care makes it difficult for many parents to pay for regular daycare expenses. According to Care.com, the average American spent $211 per week on daycare costs in 2017, a slight increase from $186 per week in 2013. For school-age children, the average American spent $242 per week on hiring an after-school babysitter, a slight increase from $181 in 2013.

While 33 percent of U.S. families spend around 20 percent of their household income on child care expenses, cost-effective options are available for families on a budget. For instance, the Boys and Girls Club of America provides families with affordable, enjoyable and reputable child care services. Read on to learn more about which types of affordable child care options are available to you.

The Boys and Girls Club of America

Depending on where in the U.S. you live, bringing your child to a local chapter of the Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA) could save you money on child care expenses, and keep your child safe and entertained while you are at work. Plus, there are 1,520 BGCA clubs in schools, 480 on U.S. military installations, 290 in public housing and 170 on Native lands. Additionally, the BGCA conducts criminal background checks and extensive screenings for each of its staff and board members, helping you and your child to feel safe and protected during out-of-school time.

While the cost of the BGCA’s School-Aged Child Care program varies by location and the age of the child, you can expect to pay around $75 per week, per child during the school year. For instance, the Boys and Girls Club of Worcester charges $75 per week, per child during the school year, or $148 during the summer months. Similarly, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake charges $95 per week during the summer months and $75 during the school year. To search for a local chapter near you, visit the BGCA’s national website and provide your ZIP code to find clubs in your area.

The YMCA

Regardless of whether you’re a member of the YMCA, the nonprofit organization provides you with an affordable full- or partial-day child care option while you work throughout the week. Additionally, after-school care programs are also available to children who attend kindergarten through middle school. However, tuition rates vary depending on the location, care type and the age of the child. For instance, the YMCA of Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin charges the following rates for five days of full-time care:

  • $215 for full-time infant care
  • $210 for full-time toddler care
  • $195 per week for children who are 2 years of age
  • $180 per week for children who are 3 years of age
  • $170 per week for children who are 4 years of age
  • $165 per week for children who are between 4 and 5 years of age

Depending on your annual household income, you may apply for a need-based scholarship to assist you in paying for these child care costs. To learn more about these child care rates and any available scholarships, contact your local YMCA chapter.

Search for an In-Home Child Care Provider

If you’re looking for an affordable and trusted child care option, many state-regulated day care providers are available to families on a tight budget. These in-home child care providers are licensed and registered under the state’s day care registry, and many of them are flexible in their pricing. To find an affordable child care provider in your area, visit your state’s Social Services website. If you live in Texas, for instance, visit the state’s Health and Human Services (DFPS) website to search for licensed child care centers in your area. If you live in California, conduct your search through the website of the state Department of Social Services (CDSS).

As another in-home child care option, try organizing a babysitting co-op. Using this method, you and several other parents in your neighborhood or community take turns babysitting one another’s children, rather than paying for professional child care service. Generally, parents who use this co-op method babysit one another’s children for pay, or some form of compensation, or they simply track their hours and take turns babysitting for one another.

If another parent watches your child during the work day, for instance, you may repay that parent by watching his or her child in the evening or on the weekend. While this method may not be ideal for you if you need full-time child care throughout the work week, you may find that you – and the other parents in your neighborhood – work opposite schedules, making it easier to babysit for one another.

Enroll in a Head Start Program

To reduce or eliminate costly child care expenses, you may enroll in a local Head Start program if your child is younger than 5years of age, and you meet minimum income restrictions. Through Head Start, your child receives free learning and development services while you work to support your family. Generally, your household income must fall below the federal poverty guidelines, or you may qualify for Head Start enrollment if you receive public assistance such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or financial benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. For families of two, for instance, the poverty guideline for 2018 is $16,460, or $20,780 for families of three. However, local requirements may also apply, depending on the state in which you live. To learn more about enrolling for assistance through Head Start, contact your state’s Head Start program.

Apply for Child Care Assistance

As another option, you may qualify for child care financial assistance through the Child Care and Development Fund. Under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), you may obtain free or low-cost child care services if your child is younger than 13 years of age, you are employed and you meet income restrictions. To learn more about the program, contact your state’s office of Health and Human Services, Department of Social Services or Department for Children and Families.

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