Child Tax Credit Void: These Assistance Programs Can Help if You’re Struggling To Pay for Child Care

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Affordable child care is out of reach for many U.S. families. The cost of child care is often a family’s biggest monthly expense and, according to ChildCare.gov, it can be higher than the cost of housing, food, or even college tuition. If you’re struggling, different economic programs may be available to help cover the basic costs.

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Government Programs

  • Child care financial assistance: The federal government provides funding to states and territories to help low-income families with child care. 
  • Head Start and Early Head Start: These programs help prepare children from birth to the age of five or school. This is available at no cost to eligible low-income families.
  • State-funded prekindergarten: State-funded pre-K programs help children between the ages of three and five get ready for kindergarten. Some states offer part-day or full-day programs to eligible families at low or no cost. 
  • Military child care financial assistance programs: Some programs help military families with child care wherever they are stationed. 
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Requirements may vary by state but you can find your local child care financial assistance program by selecting your state or territory on the “See Your State’s Resources” page on ChildCare.gov.

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Local and Provider Assistance and Discounts

  • Local assistance and scholarships: Fee assistance or scholarships may be available through local nonprofit organizations and individual child care providers. 
  • Sibling discount: Some providers may offer a discount to families that enroll siblings in the program. A discount may be applied by taking a percentage or a dollar amount off of a child’s weekly or monthly fee. Other fees may also be waived.
  • Military discount: Some civilian child care providers provide discounts to military families.

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Work- and School-Related Programs

  • Employer-sponsored Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account: Some employers may allow employees to put part of each paycheck into a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to pay for child care services. Funds placed in an FSA are not subject to payroll taxes.
  • Other employer resources: Some companies provide on-site child care services for employees. Other programs may also offer discounts. 
  • College or university: Some colleges and universities offer child care on campus to students, faculty and staff. Special discounts may be available.
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Native Hawaiian, Native Alaskan and American Indian Programs

  • Tribal Child Care Financial Assistance: Some Tribes and Tribal organizations receive child care grants from the federal government to provide child care assistance. There are also more than 150 Head Start and Early Head Start programs.
  • Child Care Assistance and preschool programs for Indigenous People of Hawai’i: There are programs in Hawaii that assist with child care and preschool costs for children of Indigenous People of Hawai’i and other Pacific Islands. Contact PATCH for more information.

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Tax Credits and Support

  • Child and dependent care tax credit: If you pay for child care for your children under the age of 13 so that you can work or go to school, you may be eligible for this credit.
  • Earned income tax credit: Low- to moderate-income workers and families may qualify for this tax credit to reduce taxes you owe or increase your refund.
  • IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance: Free tax help is available to those who make $58,000 or less per year, are disabled or are limited English-speaking.
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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.
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