5 Ways to Lower Child Care Costs

By: Mollie Shauger | Friday, May 24, 2019 | Child Care

Young girls and boys having fun in school

Did you know that for the average U.S. family, child care is unaffordable?

A recent Care.com survey found that one in three U.S. families spends 20 percent or more of their annual household income on child care, and that care is unaffordable for more than seven in 10 families. In New Jersey alone, child care for just one infant can run a bill of more than $11,000 annually.

Sometimes, just saving money isn’t enough. Here are some resources that could help you or caregivers you know to afford the extra expenses:  

  1. Look into your employee benefits.

Many employers offer a Dependent Care Account or Flexible Spending Account to help pay for child care services such as preschool, daycare, and even summer camp. Money from your paycheck goes into the account before taxes are collected. Employees have options of contributing up to $5,000 annually, and according to the U.S. Government, those enrolled can save an average of 30 percent on dependent care services.

Your employer may also offer discounts for using their own child care programs or those nearby.

  1. Tax breaks

Credits and deductions like the Child Care Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit help working families and those with lower incomes. The IRS can help determine what credits you qualify for.

  1. Government assistance

States receive money from the federal government to offer child care subsidies to low-income families. The New Jersey Child Care Subsidy Program helps parents who are in school or working to pay for child care.

There are even subsidies for adoptive parents and relatives who are caregivers, such as grandparents. Search by county to see what is available in your region.

  • Child Care Aware of America provides a list of programs that can help reduce daycare expenses. Families with incomes at or below the poverty level may be eligible for Head Start programs, serving children up to 5 years old. State-funded full or half-day pre-K programs may be offered at low or no cost to eligible families.
  • Members of the U.S. military and Department of Defense may also be eligible for assistance with child care expenses.
  1.  Provider assistance

Some providers may allow families to pay based on their income, known as a sliding fee scale. The Y offers financial assistance to families based on need. Also, if you have more than one child or are planning to have additional children, ask your provider if they offer discounts for siblings.

  1. Student assistance

Check with your college or educational institution to see what kind of aid is available. Many colleges also provide child care on or off campus.


The Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges offers financial assistance to eligible families. Find out what is available at your local branch.


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