Child care can be a very expensive service for many parents to have to deal with. Many parents do not realize just how expensive child care can be until they start forking over big dollars on child care. The bills can add up quickly and you can find yourself facing some financial instability as a result. This is especially the case if both parents return to the workforce after the child is born as you will need someone to care for your children during your 40 hour work week. Rest assured as this article will provide some useful information on how you can save money on child care.
1. Stay At Home Parent
On the surface this might not seem like a viable option since you will be losing out on one of your two incomes, however if you really analyze the situation this could actually be a very good option. The amount of money you end up spending on child care could outweigh the amount of income the mother of father is bringing in by working. Now we are not saying that child care is the same amount of one years salary, however when you factor in the money you could be saving on gas, and food, it could very well be really close.
If one of the parent’s makes a much lower salary then the other, have the parent who makes the lower salary stay at home to care for the child could be an avenue worth pursuing. Do some specific calculations to see how much you would save monthly on child care costs to see if it would be worth not working.
2. Work Flexibility
There are some flexible work options you might be able to work out which will make working and caring for your child an easier task. There are three things you can consider that might be able to benefit you as explained below:
Work From Home
One thing you can inquire about is if you can work from home. It all depends on the type of career that you have, however more employers are now allowing some form of telecommuting which could enable to you work from home and care for your child.
Another possibility that you could pursue is to possibly switch to an evening switch , where you would go to work in the late afternoon when your spouse gets home from work. There are couples that do this and as a result completely avoid child care costs. Again it depends on your career, but it is definitely worth something looking into .
3. Child Care Benefits
Some employers offer benefits that can help cover child care costs as well as discounts on child care centers. Many people are not even aware that their employers offers such a thing, so it is important to ask your employer about it. Also some employers, although not very common, have child care services on site.
4. Ask Family/Friends
Before you immediately start looking for child care centers, see if there are any family or friends that could care for your child. One of your children grandparents might enjoy caring for their grandchildren, and might even do so for free. Furthermore, if you already know of stay at home parents, you can ask them if they could also look after your child. You would most likely pay them, however it would be a lot cheaper then a child care center.
One thing to keep in mind with this option, is if for some reason the family/friend caring after you child doesn’t work out, it could have a long term effect on your relationship with that person. Weigh the pros and cons with this decision before coming to a conclusion.
5. Non Profit Centers
Your local non profit organizations such as the YMCA or church might offer child care services that would be much cheaper then what you would pay at a private child care center.
6. Shop around Child Care Centers
If you have decided against the two options listed above, then it is time to start shopping around child care and day car centers in your area. It is wise to begin by looking at options that are reasonably close to your area, or your place of work. You do not want to choose an option that is either a long drive from your home or workplace. To do this, you can simply perform a Google search and type ‘Child Care’ followed by clicking ‘near me.’
Once you have a chosen a few candidates that are near you, start browsing the prices between the day car centers. Now, the most expensive day care center doesn’t necessary mean it is the best option. Next look at what the child care center is rated. Choose one that is at least rated 3 stars.
To discover the quality of the day care centers in your area, you might want to ask some friends which child care centers they have their child enrolled in, and what they thought of it. You can also read some online reviews, however these do not mean much as a lot of times the reviews posted are fake and done either by the employees which make the day care center seem better then it is, or by the competition which make the day care centre worse then it is.
Shop By Price
One of the deciding factors that will go into your decision is the price of the child care center. When evaluating the prices, understand that the most expensive centre isn’t always the best option. For example, the price for one centre could be higher because it is a newer building or due to the fact that they have more staff or newer play equipment.
Furthermore, some of the prices are determined by the amount of services offered by the child care center. They might offer additional services that you might not need. Look at the prices and be patient until you find a child care centre that has a reasonable price.
Some day care centers might allow part time options that could allow you to pay by the hour, while some might require you to sign a contract to lock in a fixed rate that you will pay. If you have family or friends that can watch your child a few days a week, then go with a day care center that offers the part time options.
Things to Know and Ask About the Day Care Centre
When choosing a day care centre there are some important details you should ask about. Some things you should ask the potential child care centers include:
- visitation times: some centers allow parents to come visit their child anytime, while so do not. It can be a red flag if the child care centre does not allow parents to visit their child anytime.
- security: It is important to know if the child care centre has entrance security. Make sure they have procedures in place so people just can’t walk in without anybody asking them questions
- First Aid: it is very important that the child care center’s staff is trained to perform first aid. Accidents happen, a child can choke and so on, so it is essential that first aid staff are on the premises at all times.
- Food and Beverages: Be sure to know the food and drinks that will be available for the children. Ensure that nutritious and high quality food is served.
- curriculum offered: Ask what sort of ideas and programs that the child care centre is using to help educate the children. If they do not have any sort of curriculum that they follow then this can be a red flag. A quality child care center will have a specific curriculum program that they use, and should be able to answer any questions that you might have about it.
- care provider to child ratio: It is important to know the ratio of care providers to children. A rule thumb for babies is there should be approximately one care provider for every four babies. You should always ask for a tour of the day care center and have a look around to see the over environment and how many care providers there are.
Ask For Sibling Discount
If you have additional children who are already in day care ask for a discount. Having more then one child in day care can make the costs very overwhelming so a discount can be very helpful. Many times if you ask you might receive a discount on the second or third sibling enrolled in that day care.
7. Child Care Tax Breaks
The IRS has a tax break available called the Child and Dependent Care Credit, which reduces your taxable income. A range of 20-35% of the total child care costs for the year could qualify with a maximum of $3000 per child, and $6000 for more then one child. When doing your taxes