Daycare can be expensive for a family with two working, contributing parents. Meeting daycare costs may be even more difficult for a single mom who is responsible for all or most of the daycare fees. Paying for daycare can be a catch-22 situation. Some moms can’t afford child care, as paying for it consumes much of the income she needs for necessities. However, she cannot work without reliable child care. Fortunately, there are places a mom can turn to for help.
Department of Public Welfare
Your local Department of Public Welfare may be the first place to start looking if you’re in need of financial help with daycare costs. State programs may provide grants for free or reduced-cost daycare for women who meet the income guidelines, which vary by state. If funding is available in your area, you will have to disclose personal information during the application process. For example, you’ll have to provide birth dates, Social Security numbers and citizenship information for yourself and each of your children. You’ll also have to reveal how much you earn and provide proof of income. You may also have to provide whatever information you have about the whereabouts of your children’s father.
Free and Low-Cost Daycare
You can contact your state's child care resource and referral agency (see Resources below) for information about child care programs that may assist single mothers and low-income families. Some of these programs may offer significant need-based funding or allow parents to pay on a sliding fee basis--lower payment for those who earn less money. Single parents may also turn to ChildCareAware (see Resources below) for information about obtaining financial help with daycare payments.
If your child is 3 or 4 years old, you may be eligible for preschool programs that are offered for free or at reduced rates. These programs may be offered through local public schools or in other settings. Head Start and Early Head Start programs, for example, are designed to help prepare children for school and offer free child care programs. The federal or state government may fund them. Each state has its own guidelines for these programs. You may find information about them from sources like ChildCareAware or your local Department of Public Welfare.
If you don't qualify for assistance from a state or federally funded program, contact charitable organizations like the United Way. Such organizations may have resources you can use to obtain financial help. Additionally, some churches may be willing to help.
Don’t forget to ask the daycare facility you are considering for financial assistance. Some may offer grants for single or low-income parents. If you have more than one child to enroll, the facility may offer a discount or it may allow you to pay a reduced rate based on what you can afford.