In a report back in 2015 called The Cost of Raising a Child, it was revealed that a middle-income family would typically spend over $284,570 by the time their child turns 18. It’s not easy to raise a child. It certainly isn’t cheap, either. It can be even more difficult when you come from a low-income family. In 2008, over 40 million families were considered low-income families; that’s 28.8% of the population.
By the time it was 2011, the percentage of low-income families had risen to 32.1%. It’s predicted that as the years go by, the percentage will continue to rise. Thankfully, there are many resources for low-income families to help them raise their children.
The top cost when it comes to raising a child is housing. The second is food. Most low-income family resources are meant to help provide these two necessities, but they also help with schooling. The government mostly provides these resources. However, there are plenty of community organizations that aim to help low-income families as well. If you need any assistance in raising your children, here are government and community programs you should know about:
State Assistance Subsidies or Child Care Subsidies
These are forms of financial assistance that each state can provide to low-income families to help pay for child care services such as daycare. This is especially helpful because families have to work. Childcare subsidies allow you to continue working without having to worry about who’s going to take care of your child. Each state has different programs. You will have to research what program your state provides and what their requirements are.
Head Start Program
The Head Start Program and the Early Head Start Program provide free or cost-reduced learning and development services to children from low-income families. This is only eligible for children as young as birth to five years old. Although you should still check with your local Head Start community what their requirements are to see if your child is eligible.
Military Family Assistance Programs
As its name suggests, the government provided this financial assistance to help the families of military members. Part of this program is a childcare fee. The requirements for those in the army, air force, navy, and marine corps are all different.
Dependent Care Assistance Program
This is a type of Flexible Spending Account or FSA that the government provides through your employer. The Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) allows you to put aside a certain amount of money specifically for child care. This includes camps, private sitters, and other forms of childcare. These funds are not taxed, but not all employers provide this program. So, try to ask your employer if they do and apply for it if you can.
Child Care Network Programs
Some companies might not have DCAP, but they might be connected to one of your community’s childcare programs. Try to find out if they are because they might be able to provide you discounts for childcare programs they’re connected to.
Earned Income Tax Credit
EITC, for short, is a form of a tax credit for people who belong to moderate and low-income families. Tax credits reduce the amount of tax you have to pay. There are certain requirements you’ll have to meet to be eligible for an EITC.
Child and Dependent Tax Credit
This form of a tax credit is much like a DCAP. So, if your employer doesn’t provide DCAPs, the child tax credit is your next best bet. If you’re spending on childcare services to look for a job, a certain amount will be deducted from your taxes to make up for the amount that you spent. This provides a credit worth between 20 and 35 percent of child care costs. As soon as you give birth, you are eligible for this tax credit. So, make sure to avail of this as soon as possible.
Sliding Fee Scale
Some childcare providers will allow families to pay a certain rate based on how much they earn. That’s why it’s called a sliding fee scale. This is helpful if you can’t afford to pay for the regular rates of a provider.
Scholarships can also help reduce the amount of money you pay for your child’s education. Try to see if there are any programs within your community that can help you get your child a scholarship.
If you have more than one child, you are eligible for a sibling discount. That is if you enroll your children in the same program.
It’s a given that raising a child is challenging, whether you were expecting to become a parent or not. But you don’t have to struggle alone. There are tons of government and community programs that can help you. Even more than what’s on this list, these are just the most common programs there are.