Affordable daycare is within reach for many single parents.

Affordable Daycare for Single Parents

by Debra Pachucki

Affording daycare for a young child is a conundrum that many single parents face. As the head of household and sole income earner in your home, working is a must. Yet, most single moms and dads do not have the luxury of working from home and must pay for childcare while they’re at work. The trouble is daycare often runs into the hundreds per month, leaving little funds for things like rent and food. Fortunately, affordable daycare options do exist; you simply have to know what to look for.

1. Head Start Program

The National Head Start Association funds private and public child care centers around the country to provide comprehensive, developmental based care to children up to age 5 for low-income and single families. In addition, the Head Start program also offers other services to enrolled children and their families such as health and nutrition services and assistance. Best of all, standard Head Start childcare services are free of charge to qualifying families, while extended services are charged on a sliding scale basis, depending on your income.

2. Childcare Access Program

Though it might seem out of reach, you might want to consider furthering your own education if you aren’t attending a post-secondary learning institution already. Not only will a certificate or degree increase your ability to earn higher income, but single and low-income parents who attend college are eligible for the government-funded Access program, which provides campus-based care services for children.

3. Private Childcare Facilities

Oftentimes, private daycare means exclusive, upscale, unaffordable daycare to parents. But certain privatized daycare facilities are often a single parent’s best bet in terms of affordability. Many church-run childcare facilities offer daycare services for youngsters on a sliding-scale basis, meaning that enrollment tuition is not a flat fee for all but rather individually determined and adjusted based on parents’ income. Private daycare centers also exist in the form of home-run centers, owned and operated by a certified caregiver. Home-run centers are often less expensive than the popular business-operated centers. Both of these daycare types are required by law to meet state and national health and safety requirements.

4. Tuition Assistance Options

In addition to affordable daycare centers, tuition assistance is an option for many single parents. Government-funded tuition assistance programs exist for parents who are government employees or have served in the military. Social Services often provide tuition assistance for single working and low-income parents. The Child Tax Credit, though not a tuition assistance program, reduces income tax by up to $1,000 per child, which can be used toward enrolling your child in a daycare of your choice.

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