Paying for Child Care
There are different programs available to you to help pay for child care. Some programs have income requirements and some programs might be offered through local providers. You can also call your local Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) agency about options that might offer help paying for child care.
Click on the options below to learn more about programs that may be available in your area.
State Child Care Assistance/Child Care Vouchers
Every state receives funds from the federal government to support child care assistance programs. These programs may go by other names, such as vouchers, fee assistance, subsidy, or use a specific program name. These programs help families who qualify pay for child care so they can work or go to school. Check your state’s eligibility requirements by visiting your state’s child care assistance website (find it on our Child Care Resources by State Map under your state’s Financial Assistance tab.)
Early Head Start/Head Start
Early Head Start serves children from birth to 2 years old and Head Start serves children ages 3-5 years old. These programs provide a wide range of services to support children’s development and work with families to help support their children.
Both are federally funded programs and are in every state, territory, and many tribal communities. Families with incomes at or below the poverty level may be eligible for Head Start services. Special consideration is given to children who have disabilities, children in foster care, families experiencing homelessness, and families receiving certain types of public assistance. To find out if your family is eligible, contact your nearest Head Start program.
Some states fund half-day or full-day Pre-K programs for 3 to 5-year-old children, with the goal of improving school readiness. These programs may be offered at low or no cost to eligible families. Some states have made it available for all families. Contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency to find out more and to help you find a Pre-K program where you live.
Military and DoD Fee Assistance Programs
Child Care Aware® of America offers child care fee assistance to eligible members of the military and DoD. Eligibility requirements are determined by each branch of service or agency. Visit our Fee Assistance page to find out if your branch or agency is covered.
Employer Assisted Dependent Care
Some employers have plans that allow employees to earmark a portion of their paycheck into a special fund to use for child care. This money is not taxed and can only be used for child care costs. Talk to your human resource representative at your work to find out if this is an option for you.
Other Employer Benefits
Some companies have on-site child care for employees. Other companies may also offer discounts with local child care providers. Ask your human resources department if they have relationships with local child care providers that offer these discounts.
High School Students
State child care assistance may be available to parents in high school in need of child care. Check out our Child Care Resources by State Map and then click Child Care Assistance under the Financial Assistance category. You can contact your state or local office and ask about funds for parents in high school.
College or University Child Care
Some colleges and universities have on-site child care programs and may offer discounts to students and faculty members.
Sliding Fee Scale
Some providers may offer families to pay for child care based on their income. This is called a sliding fee scale. Ask providers if they offer this option, or contact your local CCR&R to see if they have information on providers who offer this option for families.
Certain types of child care programs may be lower cost. For example, some local YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, or faith-based organizations may also offer lower-cost care. Whatever setting you choose, it is important to ask if your provider is licensed.
Local nonprofits may offer scholarships to families based on need. Contact your local CCR&R for more information.
Some providers will offer a discount if you have more than one child enrolled in the program. If you have more than one child that needs child care, ask potential providers about this type of discount.
Many child care providers offer discounts for military service members. Ask potential providers if they offer discounts.
Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
This credit is available to people who are paying for child care so they can work or look for work. Speak with a tax specialist or visit www.irs.gov for more information.
Earned Income Tax Credit
This is a tax credit for individuals who work and whose income is moderate to low. Speak with a tax specialist or visit www.irs.gov for more information.