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Can’t Afford Childcare? Here are 9 Tips for Working Parents

Children are the most precious gifts we’re given. As a parent, you work extra hard to make sure you’re providing the best for your children. But while you’re off at work, you’ve got to arrange for proper childcare. And as every parent knows, childcare is not cheap! According to a study by Child Care Aware® of America, childcare costs families an average of nearly $9,000 a year. These figures vary by state and region. Still, this can account for nearly 10% of a family’s income, or over 33% for a single parent. This expense, unfortunately, is staggering. What can you do if you can’t afford childcare? We’ve outlined nine helpful suggestions below along with options for financial assistance.

Should You Stay Home or Try to Afford Childcare?

Most parents face this all-too-familiar predicament at one time or another. On one hand, you need your job to make money and provide necessities for your family. On the other hand, considering the high price of childcare, you might just be better off staying home to take care of the kids. Of course, every scenario is unique. But for many families — especially those with three or more young children — it may be more cost effective for one parent to stay home with the kids while the other parent goes to work. To evaluate this option, start by adding up your monthly childcare costs. Then, compare against your monthly wages. Don’t forget to add in transportation costs and other added expenses that comes along with your career.  

What to Do When You Can’t Afford Childcare

Sadly, a majority of folks just can’t afford to stay home with the kids. So, here are a few ideas to explore when you can’t afford childcare, yet still need to work.  

1. Opposite Shift Scheduling

In some cases, families can arrange opposing work schedules. This means that one parent works during the day, while the other parent works at night, for example. By doing so, parents take shifts watching the children. One drawback to this scenario is little time for both parents to spend time with the kids together. Also, when do the parents find time to sleep?  

2. Can You Work Remotely?

Perhaps you may be lucky enough to work from home. Some technology-centered careers, along with billing, processing, and customer service jobs can be conducted from your home office. Also, in light of recent stay-at-home orders, your job may be more open to the idea of working from home. However, this luxury is not available for a wide range of professions.  

3. Reach Out to Family

Many families offset their childcare costs by asking grandparents or other extended family to watch their children while away at work. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a full-time gig for Granny. Perhaps the kids stay with extended family once or twice a week, just to help make childcare costs more bearable. Or, try coordinating with other family members to watch their kids, along with yours, one day a week. Then, they can do the same for you. After all, it takes a village to raise a family.  

4. Seek Family Childcare

Research shows that family childcare is more affordable than center-based childcare. Family childcare is held at a private residence and may be conducted by one or two individuals in their home. In contrast, center-based childcare takes place in a business setting, typically with larger groups. Weigh your options to see if family childcare may be more beneficial for your budget.  

5. In-Home Sitting

Further, in-home sitting maybe even more affordable than the family childcare services mentioned above. In this scenario, someone would come to your house to watch your children. The key here is to find someone dependable that you can trust. If you’re still unsure, perhaps you can install in-home cameras to keep an eye on things in the beginning. Nanny cams are legal in all 50 states, with specific stipulations. Do your research, and be sure to fully disclose this to your in-home caretaker.  

6. Early Preschool

Some areas offer early preschool and head start programs for children who aren’t quite old enough to start elementary school. These early preschool programs teach children basic skills to prepare them for Kindergarten, all while costing little or nothing for parents who can’t afford private childcare.  

7. Nanny Share Programs

A Nanny Share program is when two families split the cost of one nanny. The nanny can either watch all of the kids together or split her time between the two families’ homes. Either way, this is one method to help make childcare a bit more affordable. Plus, the nanny can work with each of your schedules, while giving individualized attention to the children.  

8. Sliding-Scale Community Programs

Some communities offer sponsored programs for sliding-scale childcare. This is based on a family’s income and may allow reduced rates for those who can’t afford childcare. These programs are specific to your area. Search a bit to see if you qualify and how to participate. This option may allow you to head off to work knowing your children are cared for at a reduced rate.  

9. Government Assistance Programs

There are federal and state childcare subsidies, also called vouchers or fee assistance, that may help those who can’t afford childcare. Find more at the directory for state resources on This site has much information on childcare assistance. Further, here are additional resources for those who can’t afford childcare. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Child Care Services Association Resources on  

Check Into Cash Can Help

While searching for more affordable childcare, you may find yourself facing immediate financial emergency. If so, Check Into Cash can help temporarily offset childcare costs.  

Inquire About Installment Loans

An Installment Loan can provide access to more funds, with smaller payments over a longer repayment period. These loans are only available in certain states, so use our Store Locator to see if an Installment Loan will work for you.  

Try a Payday Loan

A Payday Loan is a small, quick, short-term loan used to help with unexpected expenses, like unplanned childcare costs, for example. Payday Loans generally range from $50–$500, depending on your state, and are not intended for use on large purchases. These Payday Loans are a safe and convenient way to access quick cash when your payday is a little too far away.

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