A lot of articles have been written to offer parents advice on how to find a good daycare. Because more than 80% of American children spend time in childcare by the age of four, this advice can be extremely helpful to many. However, many parents are just as concerned with finding a daycare they can afford; after all, studies show that the cost of putting two children in childcare is equal to the median rent in every state, and parents will assume 90% of those expenses. For this reason, this article lists four suggestions for parents trying to figure out how to find a good daycare they can afford. Can these tips help you cut costs while providing the help your family needs?
Look for Affordable Options
Depending on your area and your situation, choosing childcare you can afford may be easier than you think. For example, larger cities often have a number of affordable daycare programs, which are supported by grants and government subsidies but open to families of all income levels. Similarly, a growing number of companies are starting to offer corporate childcare solutions, such as subsidized daycare or even childcare in the workplace. If these aren’t options for you, however, you can still find affordable childcare by looking in the right places: in-home and religious-based centers tend to be cheaper than private daycare, so try looking at these options first.
Consider All the Financial Factors
If you are unsure about a daycare center’s price, ask a few questions to see if the higher cost is mitigated by other factors. For example, some businesses offer unpaid vacation benefits, meaning that you won’t have to pay for days that your child isn’t there. Likewise, some daycares offer sibling discounts for parents who enroll more than one child in their center. In contrast, some centers will charge families for their services even if they are closed to keep incomes steady, which can add to your costs significantly if you live in an area with rough weather and other factors.
Explore Your Scheduling Options
Does the daycare center you are considering offering part-time care if your child has other activities or family members in the area who might be willing to help out on certain days? Do they allow children to only come in on certain days or have only weekly rates? Moreover, does it cost more to use part-time childcare? Once these details are clear, consider your own schedule: will your employer let you work one day a week from home or leave early on certain days?
Look for Tax Benefits
One of the most important steps of learning how to find a good daycare you can afford is considering how other factors, like your taxes, will play into what you eventually pay. For example, if your workplace offers a flexible spending account, you can fund the account with up to $5,000 in pretax income, which can help you qualify for a lower tax bracket and reduce your overall payment. Additionally, the Child and Dependent Care Credit on your taxes is available for up to $3,000 in qualifying childcare expenses for one child, or up to $6,000 for two or more. Unfortunately, your FSA will count as part of this amount, but both options could help you save money and fund the care you need.