Over the past few years, the costs associated with childcare have increased more than twice as the median income of a majority of families since the year 2000.
Financial hardships of childcare programs
In the United States, the cost of childcare services can vary significantly from state to state. For instance, the average annual fees associated with government-funded childcare services goes from slightly above $3,900 in Mississippi to more than $15,000 in Massachusetts. The majority of childcare costs are determined by the age of the child, with infants having the most expensive rates.
This surprising oscillation of childcare costs per state can put a family in financial struggle. Households with two working parents are faced with the decision to keep working or abandon one job to take care of their children. Even with two sources of income, many working families are unable to cover the increasing costs of childcare.
Financial resources for childcare programs
All fifty states receive funding from the federal government to finance a variety of childcare assistance programs. Families can expect to receive financial support from these programs through several avenues, such as subsidies, vouchers, fee assistance, and more. If you qualify for any of these programs, the government provides financial assistance to make sure your family can cover the costs of childcare in the state and go on with their daily activities. Among the list of financial aid programs, we find some worth mentioning:
- Head Start/Early Head – These twin programs are designed to offer financial assistance to parents who have children that are two years old or younger. Most states have Head Start programs that support the mental, social and emotional development of children.
- State-Funded Pre-K – There are some states that fund full or half-day pre-kindergarten programs to children between three and five years old. The main goal of Pre-K programs is to increase and improve the overall school readiness of children living in the state.
- DoD and Military Assistance Programs – As the name suggests, this is a childcare fee assistance that becomes available to members of the military. Those who served in the defense, or other duties aimed at protecting the country, are eligible to receive these unique benefits to help their children.
- Government help and other subsidies such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which operates under similar rules as Medicaid, and offers affordable high quality health insurance to millions of children across the country.
Government childcare services and subsidy programs are initiatives aimed at helping a significant number of families with children. They offer financial support for childcare in a government-funded childcare center or a regulated childcare home. A considerable part of these childcare costs may be covered depending on the annual gross income of the family. Some well-known government subsidies are:
- General Service Administration subsidies – This is a program was created to assist GSA employees. It provides financial assistance to cover most childcare costs.
- National Park Service subsidies – Similar to GSA benefits, these subsidies were created to assist NPS employees. They receive several types of financial support designed to ease the burden of paying for quality childcare.
- S. Customs and Border Protection / U.S. Coast Guard – These agencies operate a variety of financial assistance programs designed to help their employees cover the costs of the childcare services they need. They are similar to the benefits offered to GSA and NPS employees across the country.
Some of the government subsidies include:
- A childcare fund designed to offer recipients cash assistance to cover emergency childcare payments and other critical childcare-related expenses.
- Part-time assistance for families who need it most, to guarantee that their children receive quality childcare and attention.
- Dependent care and child tax credit, giving families incentives to sign up for childcare at all times, knowing that their bottom line will increase and their taxes will decrease.
- Earned and child tax credit, giving families additional incentives to enroll in childcare and provide their children the best attention. These initiatives also promote job seeking.
If you want more information about the fill list of benefits provided by government-sponsored childcare programs in your state, benefits.gov is the best place to check. Along with a detailed list of benefits, this government website also provides information about eligibility requirements as well as steps to follow to submit an application.