There is so much more to raising a child today than just loving them unconditionally and teaching them the right values. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 64.2 percent of women with children under 6 years old were either working or looking for jobs in 2015. If both parents are working, you may have to think about leaving your kid in a childcare facility.
What’s more, childcare costs in the United States are ridiculously high. American families spend an average of $18,000 per year on childcare costs. Looking at this amount, it is perfectly normal to think that you cannot afford a daycare, nanny, or even health insurance! The good news is that there are various ways in which you can get financial assistance for childcare. Some of them are:
Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
You may not know about it, but you can enjoy some tax savings when you send your kids to daycare facilities. When you are paying someone else to take care of your kid for you, you can claim a tax credit using Form 2441 (https://www.irs.gov/uac/about-form-2441), or the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. This form can be used to enumerate up to $3000 of childcare expenses, and that too for each child.
Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
A Flexible Spending Account is an account that allows you to keep money aside for various health expenses. These funds can also be used for medical and dental expenses of your children. An FSA account is usually managed through a health plan offered by your workplace. The best thing about the money saved in the FSA account is that you do not have to pay any federal income or employment taxes on it. The key to remember here is that there is a cap on the amount that you can put aside in this account. As of 2016, the amount of money that you could put away in an FSA account was $2600.
Childcare and Development Fund
No matter what state you live in, you will find some sort of governmental financial aid when it comes to childcare. Most of the financial assistance will be administered through the Childcare and Development Fund (CCDF). Developed by the US Department of Health and Human Services, this fund aims to help individual states offer childcare facilities for working parents, low-income families, and even for parents who are attending school. The thing to remember about CCDF is that it has strict guidelines about income groups and the age of the children. So you may only be eligible if your children are under 13 years of age.
If you belong to a family that has served in the US military, you can definitely take advantage of the military subsidies offered by the government. Childcare Aware of America offers subsidies to eligible military families to take care of the childcare expenses in the US. The amount given is based on the Total Family Income (TFI) of these Army families. If you belong to one of these families, you will receive monthly payments through Childcare Aware of America.
Children’s Health Insurance Program
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is mainly for those kids who are not eligible for Medicaid. This program gives children up to 19 years of age all the benefits of the standard Medicaid package, as well as the benchmark or benchmark-equivalent coverage.
Free and Low-Cost Summer Camps
When money is tight, it can be difficult to find funds to cover fun extras such as summer camps. But the good news is there are some summer camp options that won’t break the bank. One of the first places you might look is at your church. Does it, or any other place of worship in your area, offer a low-cost summer program? Next, you might look into which non-profits in your area are offering camps. Often, these organizations offer programs funded by outside donations so the amount camp-goers have to pay is limited. The same goes for local businesses and even some public/local government departments. If your child really wants to go, don’t count summer camp out based on financial concerns. Chances are you’ll be able to find at least one free or low-cost option in your area.
Apart from these, you can also check if your workplace provides any childcare assistance. There is financial aid out there; you just need to figure out what you are eligible for.
By Jackie Waters