Some parents spend more on monthly child care expenses than they do on housing or food. A variety of programs exist to help working parents of all income levels find affordable child care options. Raising kids can get expensive, so if you need child care, take advantage of daycare scholarships or child care discounts for multiple siblings. Parents who meet income guidelines set by the government or who have a child with special needs might qualify for free or discounted daycare services. Flexible spending accounts that make it easier to pay child care costs throughout the year are available in some countries as well.
Scholarships are not just for college or university students. Many child care centers offer scholarships for new families or working parents who meet specific income guidelines. Scholarships also might be offered based on skills, academic performance or participation in a certain activity or sport. Apply as soon as possible if you are interested in lowering child care costs with a scholarship, because some daycare centers give priority consideration to parents who turn in the forms early.
If you have more than one child, look for child care centers that offer discounts for families that have multiple children. This might help cut your child care costs significantly, especially if the daycare center you choose offers a significant discount for siblings. Make sure to ask about any limitations or guidelines pertaining to the sibling discount. The center might offer a discount for only a certain number of children or might require them to attend for a specified number of hours each week.
Government-funded child care assistance is available in some countries. To qualify for discounted child care premiums, the household usually must consist of working parents or adults who are full-time students. This government assistance program often requires participants to meet eligibility criteria, such as income requirements and cooperation with the local child support agency. Some areas also offer government assistance for children who have physical or mental disabilities.
Flexible spending accounts are designed to lower the amount of taxable income you have, making it easier to save money to pay for child care costs. Some dependent care flexible spending accounts have funds that are available immediately, even before they are deducted from your paychecks. If your employment is terminated for any reason, you might owe the remaining balance. Remember to use your funds before the end of the year if your country does not allow participants to use the remaining balance during the next year.
Staying home, whether you become a full-time parent or telecommute, is another option. Some parents end up making very little money after child care expenses are paid, so staying home might be the best option. Other working parents are able to find telecommuting jobs or side jobs that eliminate the need for child care. Analyze your family's budget carefully before committing to the decision to stay home.