Affordable Daycare for Single Mothers: Guide to Getting Help

Mother dropping off son at daycare

With one income and sometimes limited resources, finding affordable daycare for single mothers can be difficult. Fortunately, there are several options to help you find the quality childcare you need. If you're unable to afford standard babysitting, home, or daycare fees for the care of your child, you may be eligible for programs or resources that can help you.

Affordable Daycare for Single Mothers Is Possible

Yes, finding childcare options that are affordable on one income feels like a weighty task, but it is not impossible. The key to getting financial assistance for this is knowing where to look.

Federal Childcare Assistance Programs

There are several federal programs that aim to help families work, receive education, and provide quality childcare for their dependants.

Head Start

Head Start is a federal program geared toward low-income families with children ranging in age from birth to age five. The program not only addresses educational and childcare needs but also places emphasis on health, nutrition, and various social services.

The Childcare Access Program

The US government Access program provides assistance for income-eligible parents attending post-secondary institutions. If your income falls below a specific earning base, and you also qualify for a Pell Grant, then you might be able to score free or reduced childcare at the place where your education is occurring.

Woman Dropping Daughter off Day-care

National Child Support Enforcement Agency

If you're not receiving child support, the National Child Support Enforcement Agency can assist you in obtaining the payments your child deserves, helping you make ends meet, and affording you the right care for your child.

Child Care Aware of America

Childcare fee assistance is available to parents who served in the United States military. Eligibility differs, depending on which brand of services parents served under, but the information is readily available to those who seek financial help with childcare and are or were members of the Armed Forces.

Dependant Care Acts

Some employers offer a federal flexible spending option. If you are working, attending school, and have kids under 13, then you may be able to set aside up to $5,000 in pre-tax dollars to help pay for your childcare needs.

Individual State Childcare Assistance

State-run childcare programs are available to those who qualify. Each state runs its aid programs differently, so it's important for parents to research their own's state's specifics. While each state bases need on its own requirements, some commonalities tend to exist between the states. Most states will allow parents to apply if:

  • You require childcare while you work, receive training, or are getting your education
  • Your income is below the state's set limit
  • Your children are younger than 13
  • Your child is younger than 19 and has special needs or is under a court order

Remember that even if you do qualify for assistance, it could be months before aid kicks in. The waiting lists are not short.

State-Funded Pre-Kindergarten

Many states provided programs for children between the ages of 3 and 5 called pre-k. These programs focus on school readiness. Families who are eligible can receive this service at a low or no cost.

Other Resources for Daycare Assistance

Religious institutions, community-based programs, or private centers may have lower fees or sliding scales to help provide childcare for single parents. Early childhood education training programs may also have lower fees for care or preschool and be more affordable than standard facilities.

A small but growing number of employers are also addressing the plight single parents face in regard to childcare and are providing low-cost childcare centers to their employees.

Little girl drawing

Choosing Childcare

As a single parent, the number of demands and daily difficulties you face can be a struggle. Take precautions when choosing reputable, trustworthy individuals or centers to care for your child.

  • Childcare centers should be licensed and have their centers registered.
  • Background checks should be mandatory for childcare staff.
  • Any childcare program or individual you choose should follow all safety and health standards.
  • Proper caretaker-child ratios should be adhered to.
  • Proper maintenance and sanitation methods should be practiced.

Above and beyond ensuring these aspects, always go with your gut feeling. If a caretaker or staff member doesn't enjoy being around children or something feels amiss, you may be better off trying elsewhere.

Other Daycare Options for Single Parents

Finding safe, affordable childcare for single parents can be a struggle, and this is why many single parents choose another route altogether. With the continuing increases in technology, many single parents are choosing home-based businesses, telecommuting jobs, freelancing or consulting careers, or other child-friendly career options. Should this be the route you choose, there are a plethora of resources available, from information on starting up your home business to work-at-home parent support groups.

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Affordable Daycare for Single Mothers: Guide to Getting Help