Being a mom is a full time job, but for many single mothers, it isn’t the only job they have. Do you work outside the home or are you currently looking for work? Or perhaps you are going to school full time?
If you are, you might be having a bit of difficulty finding reliable and safe childcare at an affordable price. As a mother, you don’t want to compromise on the care your child is receiving just because you can’t afford it. The safety and security of your children is too important for compromise.
Thankfully, there is plenty of available funding for child care for single mothers from the federal government. This help will provide you with the peace of mind you need to head off to work or school so you can care for your family.
Government Funding Available for Childcare
If you can’t afford the childcare you need for your children, consider taking advantage of some of the funding available from the government to single mothers.
- Child Care Assistance – This government program is designed for low-income families who need financial assistance for childcare. Funds are possible through the Child Care Development Fund, or CCDF and are distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Depending on your monthly income, you may be eligible to receive childcare assistance at little to no cost.
- Head Start – Head Start is a national program run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is designed to assist low income single mothers with children between the ages of birth and five years old who can not afford safe and reliable childcare. Foster children are automatically considered eligible for this program, and those who receive other forms of public assistance, such as food stamps, may also be eligible for enrollment. Those who qualify for enrollment can receive free childcare for their children.
Incentives and Funding Alternatives
If you don’t qualify for childcare funding assistance through government programs, and are looking for alternative funding and incentives, consider the following.
- Subsidized Daycares – If you can’t afford quality childcare, you might want to consider subsidized daycare. This type of alternative funding does not provide you with actual cash assistance, but it does lower the cost of your childcare. Most of these types of daycares work on a sliding scale, which means you only pay a certain percentage of your total income for the daycare. If you have a very low income, or no income at all, you may not have to pay for your child’s care at all.
- College and Church Daycare - Many colleges and churches offer help to single mothers who need assistance with affording childcare. Churches may offer quality daycare at a very low cost, or even for free, to those who have low incomes. Colleges sometimes provide daycare as incentives for single mothers considering school. With low-cost daycare through colleges, single mothers can obtain their education without worrying about how they will pay for childcare.
- Tax Incentives - The IRS provides single mothers with many tax breaks and benefits, including a child care credit. Those who file as head of household, single, or married filing jointly can receive up to 35% of their childcare expenses back when they file their taxes. This credit will reduce the amount of tax you owe for the year.
- Dependent Care Assistance Program - The Dependent Care Assistance Program allows you to set aside a bit of cash from each of your paychecks to help you pay for your childcare expenses. The cash is taken out before taxes and can be used for babysitting, daycare, kindergarten, and registration fees for children age 13 or younger or dependents that are physically or mentally disabled.
Finding Grants in Your Area
If you need childcare assistance, the best place to begin is by contacting your local Department of Health and Human Services, of DHHS.
This federal department can not only help you discover whether you qualify for assistance from programs like Head Start or Child Care Assistance, but can also assist you in applying for financial assistance like food stamps, WIC, TEA benefits, and Medicaid.
Most DHHS offices will also be able to help you locate other help available to you in your area as well, such as subsidized daycare grant or daycare assistance from colleges or churches.
Criteria for Applying
Interested in applying for childcare assistance? Before you begin filling out your application, make sure you qualify.
Here are a few of the eligibility requirements:
Child Care Assistance
In order to qualify for the Child Care Assistance program, you must:
- Meet the income guidelines. While these guidelines vary from state to state, your specific income will determine whether you qualify for the program and what co-pay percentage you will be expected to pay.
- You, and any other adult in the household, must work at least 30 hours every week. If you are not working, you must be a full-time student for at least 30 hours a week. A combination of work and school is also acceptable.
- You must have an eligible child between the age of birth and 12 years old.
To find out more, and learn how to apply, visit www.hhs.gov or visit your local DHHS office.
In order to qualify for Head Start, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must have a child who is six weeks to five years old.
- You must have a child with an Individual Education Plan, or IEP, or an Individual Family Services Plan, or IFSP.
- You have a foster child with risk factors that are considered to be high.
- You are a parent to a child with disabilities.
- You must meet all income guidelines specified for your particular Head Start.
To learn more about Head Start and find out how to apply, visit www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ohs.
Child Care Credit
To qualify for the Child Care Credit, you must have a qualifying child and be able to prove qualifying expenses such as daycare expenses, day camp expenses, and nursery school expenses. If you have one child, up to $3,000 worth of expenses may be claimed. If you have two or more children, up to $6,000 may be claimed.
If you want to take advantage of this credit, make sure to use form 2441 when you are filling out your 1040. Provide your childcare provider’s name, address, and tax identification number as well. If you have any other questions, speak to your tax professional or visit www.irs.gov.
Being a single mother is hard, but affording the right child care shouldn’t be. Take advantage of the many types of funding and incentives made available to single mothers by the government so you can ensure your children are receiving quality childcare.