If you find that you are not eligible for child care subsidy, you may want to check with your employer to see if they can assist with child care needs. Some employers offer assistance programs to aid their employees in covering child care costs, such as:
Flex time – full time work with more hours per day, but fewer days per week, flexible scheduling, telecommuting, job sharing, part time work
Leave Policies – extended parental leave, use of sick leave for family illness, personal leave
Dependent Care Spending Assistance Plan – money set aside from your gross wages into a nontaxable spending plan. Neither your employer nor you pay taxes on the amount of the set aside – allowing you to pay for child care expenses with tax-free dollars
Flexible Benefits Plan – the employer can offer a range of benefits, from health care premiums to child care costs as tax free set asides
Child Care Vouchers – the employer offers an allowance or stipend to help cover child care cost
Child Care Vendor Plan – the employer contracts with a local child care program to reserve slots for their employees. The employer may also pay for all or a portion of the cost.
Contact your Human Resources Department for more information.
Head Start is a national program funded by the Office of the Administration for Children & Families that provides comprehensive developmental and social services to America’s low-income preschool children and their families. Head Start and Early Head Start programs support the comprehensive development of children from birth to age 5, in centers, child care partner locations, and in their own homes. Head Start services include early learning, health, and family well-being. The program is administered by the US Department of Health and Human Services, through the Administration for Children and Families. The following website can provide you with information on Head Start programs: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ohs
There are four major components of the Head Start Program:
- Education: This component serves children’s cognitive, social, and emotional growth. Great care and consideration is given to ethnic and cultural curriculum.
- Health: Families receive services related to medical, dental, mental, and nutritional heath. The Head Start Program emphasizes the prevention of health problems.
- Parental Involvement: Parents are able to serve on advisory boards and program-planning committees, volunteer in the classrooms, and attend parent-education sessions. Head Start staff complete home visits as well, to facilitate communication.
- Social Services: Social service teams work to identify the needs of a family and find appropriate community-based referrals.
In 1994, Head Start established a program to serve low-income infants, toddlers, and pregnant women, called Early Head Start. The main focus of the program is to promote children’s development in physical, social, emotional, and cognitive areas, empower parents to develop better parenting skills, and help parents reach their goal of economic independence. Services that are available through the Early Head Start Program include:
- Home visits, which include developmentally appropriate early childhood education
- Parent education
- Comprehensive health services
- Support services for families, including case management, referrals to community resources, and peer support
Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit: Helps families pay for child care for children under the age of 13, if the parents are working, or looking for work. Parents who are full-time students can also claim the credit. Qualifying care includes child care centers, family child care homes, and care provided by paid friends or relatives — as long as the relative is not a dependent of the taxpayer. The size of the credit depends on the number of children in care, your family income, and the amount you paid for child care during the tax year. There are limits on the credit given for one child, and two or more children.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Questions and Answers: Earned Income Tax Credit: A refundable tax credit for low- and moderate-income families, particularly those with children. The EITC is based on family income and the number of children in the family. Both single- and two-parent families are entitled to the credit, as long as one parent is employed. A number of states have their own Earned Income Tax Credits; check with your state department of revenue for more information.
State Tax Credits: Twenty-four states have state tax programs related to the Child and Dependent Care Credit. Check with your state department of revenue for more information.
In-Home Care or Nanny Tax: When you hire an in-home caregiver, you become an employer under federal law. You need to be aware of laws regarding taxes, verification of employment eligibility, and minimum wage. For information on these topics, contact the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, an accountant, a tax advisor, or an insurance agent.