Affording Daycare As A Single Mom: How To Make It Work
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Affording Daycare As A Single Mom: How To Make It Work

There are many costs associated with raising children. Food, clothing, housing, healthcare, and education can be enough to keep many parents awake at night. Costs like these are compounded for single mothers, who often must bear the financial burden on their own. One of the more challenging expenses for single mothers to afford is daycare. 

Depending on where you live, daycare costs can vary wildly. While you may be tempted to look at the cheapest options available to you, in some instances, cheaper doesn’t always mean that it’s what’s best for your children, and this can limit your choices even more. 

Are you a single mom wondering how you can afford daycare? Affording daycare can be a challenge, but with the right plan of action and extensive research, you can find ways to afford childcare without cutting corners and provide a wholesome environment for your children to grow in.

 Here are a few things that may help you in your quest to make childcare more affordable.

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Programs Available to Help

As a single mother, you may find yourself having to bear the heavy financial weight of providing for your children. Daycare is often one of the most expensive needs that working moms must address, and finding the solution can be a challenge. One Program that may be able to help is the school readiness program. Depending on where you live, the school readiness program can significantly impact your daycare expenses.  

If you’re a working mom, the school readiness program can provide you with childcare services while you work or attend school. While the school readiness program can offer you many benefits, it’s crucial to understand how the program works in your area. 

In Florida, for instance, one of the requirements to qualify for the program is to make a gross income 150 times below the federal poverty line according to your family size.

Other requirements include working or attending school for at least 20 hours a week and making a copay for childcare based on your income and the size of your family.

Another program that may help with daycare is a childcare financial assistance program. Depending on where you live, this program can fall under several names, such as a voucher, subsidy, or certificate. The childcare financial assistance program helps low-income families pay for childcare. Like the school readiness program, the childcare financial assistance program has income and employment requirements.

Other Assistance programs include

  • Early Head Start
  • State Funded Pre-K
  • Local assistance programs
  • Military assistance programs 

The Childcare Tax Credit

The childcare tax credit presents another option that can help take some of the pain out of childcare costs. This program makes it possible for single parents to receive up to $3,600 per child under six years old. These extra funds can open a world of possibilities for your childcare search. One thing to remember is that the childcare tax credit gets broken up into monthly payments with a maximum amount of $300 per child. While this number may seem small at first, it can help make a significant dent in daycare costs.

Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account

Another tool you can utilize to help tackle the cost of childcare is a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account. A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) works by taking out funds from your paycheck before they’re taxed down. 

The DCFSA allows some people to save up to 30% on childcare costs, which can make a significant difference. You can use a DCFSA for other childcare services, such as before and after-school programs, summer camp, babysitting, and nanny expenses. 

It’s worth noting that a DCFSA program has limits, as you can only withdraw funds up to a certain amount. Also, if you exceed the limit, you’ll have to pay the exceeding amount out-of-pocket.

Another crucial fact to be aware of is to use your benefits before the end of the year, as they don’t roll over. So, whatever benefits aren’t used will be gone by the end of the year.

Look To Bring In Additional Income

Being away from your children for hours is difficult enough as it is. Putting in long hours at work can make you want to maximize every moment with your children. With that said, you still have to meet your financial obligations.  

While it may not be the most desirable option, picking up some extra work may be what you need to help bridge the gap. Taking on a part-time job or side hustle can be a method to make extra money. If need be, you can deliver groceries, sign up for a ride-share service, deliver packages, or use many other ideas to bring in extra money.

Grants and Scholarships

There are many scholarships and grants that can help you pay for childcare expenses. The issue is that it may take extensive research to find what’s available in your area. One thing that may help you is looking into local charities or large foundations in your area and asking if they offer child care assistance. Sometimes, the smallest amount can make the most significant difference and help make daycare more affordable.

The types of programs available depend on factors such as your location, state resources, and eligibility rules.

Ask Family Members For Help

If you live near family members that you can trust, now might be the time to have an honest conversation about what your needs are. Some family members may welcome the opportunity to care for your children, while others may need a little more convincing. Either way, it can be tough to afford traditional daycare methods, but trustworthy family members may be able to help you with drastically reduced costs for childcare.

The Final Verdict

Being a single mother comes with a unique set of challenges. One of the most prevalent concerns is having enough time and resources to share with your children. Childcare can be one of the most expensive aspects of raising children, sometimes costing upwards of a few hundred dollars each week.

But doing research and finding programs in your area that may help offset the cost is a great place to start. Also, it helps to have people you know and trust nearby to help with watching the kids, but this isn’t always possible. Finding the best strategy that works for your lifestyle is the key to finding a way to manage daycare costs.

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