Plenty of people out there want to have kids and start their own families. While many shy away from this dream because of the lack of time and energy to make it happen, the sheer cost of it is probably the biggest reason why a lot of people decide not to do it. The majority of families in America are spending over $10,000 a year on childcare alone. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t have that kind of cash. With all these factors in mind, it’s no wonder many people are truly scared of having children and starting their own families.
As part of the efforts the governments put in to improve the economy, there are plenty of government assistance programs to help out families. One great resource to find information on these assistance programs is Benefits.gov. The site gives Americans access to comprehensive information on the available programs. It also helps people find out which programs they’re eligible for through a simple questionnaire called Benefit Finder.
Among these government assistance programs are ones that focus on financing childcare. The government recognizes the weight of financial responsibility that comes with taking good care of children. This article is dedicated to helping you find programs that will help carry the financial weight of taking care of your kids.
Why Would The Government Spend Money To Take Care Of People’s Kids?
If we take a look at how a person’s life develops, it all starts from the childhood stage. If a child grows up in a safe, stable home, they’re less likely to develop psychological issues. These kinds of homes can also be great nurturing grounds to teach children positive habits and traits. In a safe and financially-stable home, children can spend their time improving their skills through education and/or hobbies. On the parents’ side of the spectrum, financial burdens can lead to a wide array of issues. Parents who struggle financially may suffer from great levels of stress, they may also have to make unfavorable sacrifices to get the money they need.
Lack of money, in general, can lead to negative actions and consequences. As we all know, some people may choose the route of crime to make up for their fiscal deficits. Moreover, if a family is short on cash, they may opt for lower-quality healthcare, education, and family development options for their kids.
With all that in mind, it’s no wonder the government spends a lot of time and resources on developing child care assistance programs. And, it’s not all about money. In many cases, the government is willing to help families with educational, nutrition, and overall healthcare needs. That’s what we’re looking at in this article. We want to explore what kind of child care assistance programs and subsidies Americans can acquire from their government. However, the trick is to know how to access these programs and if you’re eligible for them.
What Kind Of Child Care Assistance Programs And Subsidies Does The Government Offer?
The federal government has a wide array of programs put in place to help Americans with the cost of childcare. However, there are a few things to know before we start listing the types of programs available. First, these subsidies and assistance programs provided by the government can vary in benefits and qualifications from one state to the next. As the federal government will often assign budgets for these programs, then distribute them among state governments. State governments will then take charge of running these programs, handling benefits distributed, and managing applications. Second, there are plenty of subsidies and assistance programs that focus on certain special cases. These cases include but are not limited to families with disabled members and veterans. Finally, applicants may apply for more than one program at a time. That way, applicants can increase their chances of getting financial help from the government.
State-Sponsored Subsidies and Assistance Programs
As we’ve mentioned earlier, the federal government funds a lot of assistance, but then leaves the operations to the state governments. This means that each state may offer a different selection of subsidies. State governments may also offer different ranges of benefits while requiring different qualification criteria. When it comes to child care government subsidies, it’s important to know what your state offers. A guaranteed way of getting reliable information is asking the government itself. That’s why the government created Childcare.gov. This website focuses precisely on government subsidies meant to help Americans with child care. It also does this neat thing where it asks you straightaway which state you’re in and gives you a list of the available programs in your state. If you’re interested in child care subsidies, you should definitely check out this website.
Let’s take a quick look at what kind of child care subsidies state governments offer. We’ll also talk about what kind of benefits you can get from them:
Child Care And Development Fund
According to Benefits.gov, “the Child Care and Development Fund provides assistance to low-income families who need child care due to work, work-related training and/or attending school.”
As explained, this program focuses on helping low-income families in which parents are working, or in some states, in work-related training. The idea is to make sure that while parents are working hard to earn income for the family and develop their careers, the government lends a financial helping hand to make sure the kids grow up in favorable circumstances. As with every subsidy/assistance program we’ll mention, there are certain qualifying criteria for this one:
- The fund aims to help parents/primary caregivers of a child no older than 13 years old or
- Parents/primary caregivers of a disabled person no older than 19 years old
- Applicants for this program must prove they’re employed or
- Enrolled in work-related training or education (only available in certain states)
If you have any questions about the Child Care and Development Fund, contact your state, territorial or tribal Child Care and Development subsidy agency. You can also click on this page to locate the nearest state or territorial Child Care and Development Fund subsidy agency. For those of you looking for the nearest tribal Child Care and Development Fund subsidy agency, check this page.
Head Start and Early Head Start
Head Start and Early Head Start programs focus on the development of families and children alike. The programs’ main aim is to provide support to families through education and child care. This subsidy offers development services for kids aged from Zero to Five. Pregnant women can also get benefits from these programs. These programs will mainly focus on assisting low-income families. So, check with your state government about eligibility clauses.
State-Funded Pre-Kindergarten Programs
This type of subsidy is only available in 39 out of 50 states. Each state provides a different range of benefits, as well as a different set of qualifications. This program provides schooling for 3- and 4-year old students. The idea is to lift the weight of financial responsibility off American parents, allowing them to allocate their income towards other necessities. The program started in Georgia in 1995 and is still going strong ever since. This program focuses on low- and very-low-income families. Once again, we recommend you check with your state offices for eligibility.
You Can Get Help With More Than One Child
Known as sibling discount, several governmental programs will offer discounts on care for more than one child. The government may take a percentage or a specific dollar amount off of a child’s weekly or monthly fee. They may also waive the registration fee or other fees. Make sure to ask your state about this discount if you need it.
Child Care Subsidies for Military Families
Our military service members have to sacrifice a lot to their service, it’s no wonder the government created child care subsidies specifically for them. These service members don’t only risk their own well-being for their country, but also sacrifice time that could be spent with their families. Factoring in all things service members have to sacrifice for their country, going through financial distress shouldn’t be one. That’s why the federal government created several subsidies to help them pay for child care. First, there’s a website called MilitaryChildCare.com (MCC) on which military service members can find all information regarding government assistance programs they qualify for.
Second, some servicemen and women may not be able to find financial assistance programs where they’re stationed. That’s why applying for military child care fee assistance can be a great option. Finally, the government created different assistance programs for each military branch of the military. You’ll find below links that lead you to each branch’s programs.
Air Force Fee Assistance Program
Marine Corps Fee Assistance Program
U.S. Coast Guard Fee Assistance Program
Extra Resources For Military Personnel
There are also other resources that active military members may find useful. One of which is the National Military Family Association. This association provides child care relief to active military members. Eligibility for qualification for this association’s membership is pretty straightforward:
- Applicants must be on active duty, activated reserves, or National Guard on active Title 10 or Title 32 orders for six months or longer.
- Military members must be in pay grades E1 – E6
- Only families with children ages 13 and under are eligible
- Single service members, dual service members or service members with a spouse who is employed (minimum 15 hours per week) or currently pursuing a degree (minimum 6 credit hours) or professional pursuit (licensure or certification — minimum 15 hours per week)
Child And Dependent Care Tax Credit
Paying taxes is one of those responsibilities that you can’t escape no matter what your situation is. If you’re making income, the government expects to receive a slice of it in return for all the services it provides. However, there’s good news. The government recognizes how much money people have to invest into child care. That’s why they created a program in which child care can actually help you cut down on the taxes you owe. Basically, the government will give you tax credit based on the expenses you pay for child care. So, the more you spend on your kids, the fewer taxes you pay.
How Can I Be Eligible For This Tax Credit?
This tax credit benefits parents who are legally responsible for a kid who’s 13 years or younger. Parents/caregivers of disabled individuals under the age of 19 may also receive this tax credit. You need to know that you have to live with your child/dependent for at least half a year to qualify for this tax credit.
Parents who pay for child care of an eligible child/dependant while actively working, or looking for a job may claim up to $4,000 in tax credit. If two parents are eligible for the tax credit together, they may claim up to $8,000.
Everyone, including parents, nowadays is running around trying to make enough money to make ends meet. Parents have it a bit rougher than some others. The financial burden of child care can get pretty heavy. Parents don’t only need to take care of a child’s health, but also their education, and psychological health. Besides the energy and time it takes to raise a child, the costs can be pretty substantial. That’s why the government created many subsidies that can come in handy for these parents.
Starting with state-run subsidies. The federal government designed and created several child care assistance programs. However, state governments run most of these programs. That’s why benefits and qualifications may vary from one state to the other.
The government also created child care subsidies specifically for military families. There are plenty of resources out there to get information on them. Among these resources is MilitaryChildCare.com.
Finally, there are ways you can save up on your yearly tax payments. You should probably look into Child And Dependent Care Tax Credit.