It's no secret that child care in the United States can be very expensive. If you're a parent who is looking to enroll your child in daycare or a similar arrangement for the first time, you might be experiencing sticker shock and wondering how you're going to afford the child care your family needs. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to consider that can help make child care more affordable--no matter what your situation.
Make Arrangements Early
One of the best ways to find a good deal on child care is to start looking as early as possible! Don't wait until a few weeks before your child needs to start daycare, for example, to start researching it. By this point, there's a good chance the affordable daycares and other child care options in your area will be full. Begin researching months in advance (if possible), and once you find an option that suits your needs and budget, go ahead and get your child registered. Talk with a professional, like Youthland Academy, for more information.
Ask Your Employer About Schedule Flexibility
If you can't find an affordable child care option, it may be worth having a talk with your employer. For example, if you currently work 9-5 in the office five days per week, would your boss be willing to let you work from home occasionally? Even allowing you to work from home one day a week could save you a substantial amount on your child care costs. You might be surprised at how willing your employer is to work with you. If enough people in your office need child care, petitioning for an office daycare may also be an option.
Make Use of Your Child Tax Credit
Remember that you receive a tax credit each year simply for having children; this amount can vary based on how many children you have and other factors, but it's a good idea to apply some or all of this credit to your child care expenses for the year. Also keep in mind that child care costs are usually tax deductible, so be sure to keep receipts and documentation of what you're spending on it throughout the year so you can reduce your tax burden and save some money come tax time.
Explore Income-Based Options
If you're really struggling to afford child care, particularly if you're living on the poverty line, you may also want to explore state- and federally-funded options. Many of these are income-based, so you'll only be required to pay what you can afford for the child care your family needs.