How Do Single Moms Afford Daycare [With Free & Low Cost Options]

Did you know that the cost of childcare can range from just over $5,000 to over $20,000 a year? Not only that, but that is the fee for just ONE child! This is a staggering cost that parents have to endure. One that can actually surpass the amount due for the rent or mortgage! It is hard enough to handle this kind of responsibility as a couple, but how do single moms afford daycare?

Moreover, what are ways to lessen the load without decreasing the quality of care? We highlight the best ways to save on childcare and affordable options that are available in most areas! While it may seem like an impossible task, it is actually quite easy if you know where to look and what savings are at your disposal. 

Generally speaking, the best and effective first step is looking for federal and local programs in your region! Ask questions about their policies and potential discounts. If you are eligible, certain services could be available at reduced rates or they could even be free! Moreover, as April 15th rolls around, determine what credits you can qualify for with the help of a tax expert. Finally, evaluate ways to save and changes that you can make in your life to make your situation easier.

Top Ten Affordable Child Care Options For Single Moms

1. Head Start

Head Start Programs provide free, educational services to kids up to the age of five. These initiatives guarantee a safe and dependable environment for your child’s early learning experiences. Tailored to low-income families, infants and toddlers will receive individualized instruction in a handful of topics.

They will also have plenty of socialization opportunities, regular healthy meals and even wellness checks! These programs open to all kids, including those with disabilities and special needs. 

Furthermore, Head Start aims to foster family togetherness! This allows kids to build relationships as well as understand the importance of accepting and respecting all individuals. The ultimate objective is to get kids ready for a smooth transition into Kindergarten. Additionally, some facilities even offer transportation services to ensure that your little one has regular attendance! 

2. Child Care Subsidies

Every state offers some form of financial aid or support to assist low-income families with child care. In order to qualify, most locations require that you earn less than a certain threshold, that your child be under the age of thirteen, and for you to be currently employed or enrolled in school or training. 

3. State-Funded Pre-Kindergarten

If you currently live in Florida, Georgia, or Oklahoma, you are in luck! These states offer Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Programs that are free for all four-year-olds.

However, most other states charge for these classes. This can become quite expensive, but depending on your salary, you could be eligible for tuition reductions. These lower rates also apply to military families, dual-language households, and foster children. 

free or low cost daycare for single moms

4. Military Benefits

If you or a family member are a part of the U.S. Military or the Department of Defense, you may qualify for government assistance. Child Care Aware of America leads this initiative and helps over 10,000 military children each year! Benefits depend on which branch you serve in so make sure to research your specific eligibility and coverage. 

Moreover, many people don’t realize how many businesses provide discounts to individuals who have served our country. If you or your spouse are military members, first responders, or even medical personnel, make sure to inquire about discounts that are offered.

5. Child Care Tax Credit

The child tax credit has actually increased tremendously as of this year! Now parents can expect to receive $3,000 for each child under the age of seventeen and $3,600 for those under six. 

This new expansion allows single moms to receive a lump sum at tax time next year or they can file for an advance of up to half of these funds, spread over a handful of installments. Not only that, but single filers can make up to $75,000 in gross income and still qualify!

6. Flexible Spending Account

An FSA is a great way to better utilize your paycheck for child care purposes. If you set up a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account with your company, you can use pre-taxed earnings towards daycare or pre-kindergarten classes. This equates to you paying less in taxes and your dollars going farther! 

Talk to your human resources representative about the options that are available to employees and when you are able to sign up. Unless you just recently had your child, there is usually a sanctioned registration time once a year.

7. Non-Profit Child Care 

Many churches and Jewish Community Centers offer low-cost daycare options to members. Moreover, local YMCA and YWCAs offer daycare and preschool services for an affordable price! Best of all, some families can qualify for scholarships! Additionally, these facilities also provide after-school options for single moms who work non-stereotypical work hours.

8. Nanny Shares

When you hear the word “nanny” you immediately see flashing dollar signs. Surprisingly though, many of these Mary Poppins-type workers offer care to kids from multiple families. This allows parents to split the cost while still ensuring that their children receive top-notch, personalized care in the comfort of their home or a family friend’s home. 

how to afford childcare as a single mom

9. Home Daycares

While less conventional, there are plenty of licensed child care facilities that operate out of people’s homes! They normally watch a limited number of children so enrollment can be a little harder to obtain. However, the cost is usually less than that of a professional daycare or preschool facility. 

10. Family Members

Never discount the importance of family! For those single moms who are lucky enough to live near available family members and close friends, this can provide free support and peace of mind that your baby is safe and sound with a loved one. 

Other Discounts

Are you a student in high school or college? Do you have multiple children that need to be enrolled? Does your company have a partnership with a childcare facility? These are all potential money savers for single moms! Additionally, many facilities provide a sliding fee scale to accommodate those who do not make as comfortable of an income. 

Always inquire about what discounts each facility offers. The worst-case scenario is that they offer nothing and the best case means more money in your pocket!

Alternative Work Solutions For Single Moms

Sometimes finding affordable child care is just not in the cards. This is exceptionally true for single moms who live in bigger cities where the overall cost of living is higher. If this is the case for you and your family, it is time to take a step back and alter your work scenario.

We live in a digital age and with the onset of COVID, remote work has become the new norm. Take some time to evaluate your skill sets and research your options. Then reformat your resume and apply for opportunities that better suit your life!

Many single moms thrive as virtual assistants, writers, transcribers, and social media marketing specialists. All of these positions can be done in the comfort of your home and have flexible hours. This can give you the latitude to care for your child during your work day. Additionally, if you are hired by the right company, you can also qualify for health benefits!

Lastly, if you are determined about staying on track with your career or educational goals, then consider going part-time for a period of time. This can give you the ability to continue on your intended path while cutting down on childcare costs. This can be extremely beneficial for single moms with preschool-age kids. Many programs offer half-day programs for a reduced rate.

Create A Budget Tailored For Single Moms

Cutting costs is never fun, but it is a necessary part of life. For single moms, this can be exceptionally true! Take some time to look at your budget. What can you remove from your monthly charges that can be used elsewhere?

Streaming services, beauty and clothing subscriptions, gym memberships, and food delivery fees are easy things to remove. Consider reducing the number of nights out on the town you spend with friends and do a girls’ night in! Treat yourself to a spa day at home!

By evaluating your expenses, you can find areas to save and remove unnecessary spending. Then the extra cash can go towards daycare costs! 

Final Thoughts

If you are a part of the single mom’s club, you know how hard it can be to balance everything in life. This includes your budget! However, you never want to skimp on your child’s care! Therefore, it is important that you look into what dependable and beneficial options are available in your area. Moreover, be humble. Never be too proud to ask for discounts or deals.

Finally, sometimes we have to alter our plans. Cutting unnecessary costs and potentially changing your career path may be necessary in making your childcare and financial situations work. While this can be a hard decision, from time to time a good parent has to make sacrifices for their children! Know that you can always go back to your original plans later down the line!

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