How To Get Free Child Care Assistance
Raising a child includes countless moments of joy, and also comes with its fair share of challenges. Perhaps one of the greatest obstacles parents face these days is the high cost of childcare, which has increased significantly over the last few decades. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average cost of raising a child to the age of 17 is now $233,610—which doesn’t include paying for college. If you’re struggling to pay for daycare, healthcare, or housing costs, there are public and private programs that can provide child care assistance so you can focus on your family.
How much does childcare cost?
Below, we’ve outlined the major costs parents face when raising a child. Note that these costs do not include clothing, food, transportation, or other miscellaneous expenses.
According to ChildCare Aware of America, childcare shouldn’t cost more than 7% of a family’s income–yet the average US family pays significantly more than that, especially single parents. Daycare in Massachusetts, for example, costs around $20,415 annually—a figure more reflective of college tuition.
Housing is the largest cost of raising a child, taking up on average 29% of a family’s annual income. To compound the problem, a severe shortage of affordable homes in the US is driving up both rent and mortgage prices.
Aside from labor and delivery costs—which can run anywhere from $5,000 to $14,000— providing continued healthcare for your child can be a financial struggle for many. Chronic health issues, dental work, and other conditions not covered by insurance can instantly put the monthly budget in the red. On average, out of pocket healthcare expenses for people under 19 years old can range from $1,144 to $2,648 each year.
While public schools are far cheaper than private schools, a public education can still cost a pretty penny. Backpacks, extracurricular activities, and the increasing role of technology in the classroom all contribute to rising costs. . On average, parents can expect to pay $1,321 on back to school costs each year.
Legitimate government programs for child care
When families need help paying for childcare, housing costs, and medical care, there are government programs in place to help relieve the financial burden. Below are just a few of these programs that may help you and your family.
This program provides affordable health insurance to children and teens, so they can receive routine check-ups, prescriptions, emergency visits, dental care, and more. Children up to age 19 whose annual family income is no more than $49,200 are eligible for the program.
Head Start provides children up to age five with free early development and education services, to help prepare them for success in school. Eligibility is based on family income. Depending on the location, some Head Start programs even offer prenatal services to pregnant women.
The military offers a number of childcare subsidies to active duty military families that need help with daycare expenses. There are also programs dedicated specifically to children with special needs. Eligibility requirements may vary, so it’s best to refer to the ChildCare Aware website for more information.
Government daycare assistance
If you need help with childcare costs and are wondering how to afford daycare, Childcare.gov can help. The site offers free resources for finding daycare financial assistance, including programs that help younger parents.
Four surprising resources for child care assistance
Government programs aren’t the only way to find relief from increasing child-related expenses. These four under-the-radar sources help bring down costs as well.
1. Crowdfunding for child care assistance
Building an emergency fund isn’t a possibility for everyone, so it can be tough to recover if a personal financial crisis strikes. When this happens, expensive childcare costs can become even more daunting—and crowdfunding can help. Every day, people around the world start family fundraisers and daycare fundraisers to help offset these costs, so their children receive the care they deserve.
2. Local diaper banks
At $65 to $90 per month, diapers are a big chunk of the baby budget for low-income families. The National Diaper Bank understands this, and helps reduce the financial burden of diaper costs through their community diaper programs, available in locations across the US.
3. Discounted daycare through nonprofits
There are quite a few local nonprofit organizations that offer daycare assistance to families in need. Some YMCAs, for example, offer an Alternative Payment (AP) daycare program for children up to 13 years old. Check with your local nonprofits or religious organizations as well, as many offer sliding scale options for daycare.
4. Free financial coaching
Low-income families can receive financial coaching for free through organizations like LIFT. Parents work with their own coach, who offers advice and support on everything from finances to education. LIFT also provides funds for emergencies that may stand in the way of meeting long-term goals.
Online fundraising can help pay for child care
Every day, thousands of parents turn to crowdfunding to help offset crucial childcare costs. By starting an online fundraiser, you can begin raising money in a matter of minutes. And with GoFundMe’s free fundraising platform, you get to keep more of the funds you raise—which means more of your donations can pay for daycare, tuition, or any other child-related expenses.
Five tips for starting a successful fundraiser
- Tell your fundraiser story in a way that’s easy for readers to skim. Avoid long paragraphs, and make sure to use headings and subheadings.
- Another top fundraising tip is to include both images and video in your fundraiser. This helps form an emotional connection with your donors, inspiring even more donations and social sharing.
- Speaking of being social, promote your fundraiser on social media and consider creating a Facebook account for your fundraiser.
- Invite your kid or teen to help with fundraising efforts. Not only will this empower your child to take action, but may even inspire them to start their own fundraiser in the future for any cause they care about.
- More daycare fundraiser ideas include setting a clear fundraising goal, and posting regular fundraiser updates to keep donors in the loop.
Real people using crowdfunding for childcare costs
When these parents fell on hard times and needed child care assistance, they launched fundraisers through GoFundMe to find financial relief.
When Abbey’s partner passed away unexpectedly, her world was turned upside down. Abbey had to take a leave from work to care for her four children, all under the age of 13. Her friend came to her aid and started a fundraiser to help Abbey pay for food, rent, childcare costs, and other basic necessities, raising over $10,500.
Chase, the father of four children, was involved in a terrible accident that resulted in a broken neck and partial paralysis. Out of work from his construction job, Chase and his wife Veronica worried about how they would continue to support their family while Chase recovered. Veronica’s sister started a fundraiser that raised over $11,500 to help them during this difficult time.
After a large tree snapped and fell on her, Victoria suffered multiple broken bones and paralysis. Her husband and four children knew she faced a long, expensive recovery—that they weren’t sure how to pay for. Family friends turned to online fundraising to help with childcare, housekeeping, and nursing care costs, and raised over $200,000 for Victoria and her family.
Find financial assistance for childcare today
From daycare to diapers, the expenses that accompany raising a child can be a financial burden for parents everywhere. But no matter your income or your situation, no one should have to worry about how to pay for their child’s needs—and there are many options for finding financial relief. Sign up and start your own fundraiser today, and get the child care assistance you and your family deserve.