When it comes time for your kiddo to head off to daycare, preschool or other early childhood education facilities, affordable opportunities are hard to come by. In many regions of the country, people are spending more money on childcare than they are on housing or food for the entire family. Early childhood care and education sets each child up for development and learning. Moreover, affordable childcare promotes parental employment. If a child has nowhere to go, it can be difficult for a parent to take a day off when they have a job to get to.

Quality care is a necessary component to a child’s growth. Without it, jumping into school systems with no previous early education experience will set your child back rather than launching them forward. Parents are facing long wait lists and unrealistic, unreasonable prices that have continued to increase since the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to that, there is a childcare worker shortage that is impacted from low pay and high hourly demand. The ratio of one caregiver to every three or four children that most states have in place heavily affects the significant cost factors of childcare.

With all of these factors considered, here are some ways you can proactively prepare and plan for childcare:


Look in Advance

Unfortunately, not everything can easily happen with a snap of a finger. Most families will start looking for childcare months in advance, oftentimes before their baby is even born, while planning out ways to budget their expenses. The more affordable childcare options will get snatched quickly, so make sure that you’re on top of it.


Know Your Options

There are plenty of different options for childcare. Whether it’s in-home daycare or hiring a part-time babysitter, each form of childcare is unique and benefits your child any way you decide. Each option may differ cost-wise, but it’s helpful to look at all options carefully and decide what to start with.


Choose Carefully

When choosing what childcare center is the right fit for your child, it’s important to do all your research. Read reviews, use recommendations from friends and family, research certifications that the childcare center may have and take tours of the facilities! The more research you’ve done, the more confident you will feel with your decision.


Company Benefits

Nowadays, companies are starting to expand their list of benefits for their employees. One potential benefit is a Dependent Care Account. If your employer offers this specific type of FSA (Flexible Spending Account), you can set aside up to $5,000 to pay for childcare, tax free. This money covers more than just day care. Dependent Care Accounts can cover daycare and preschool fees as well as summer day camps for kids. This is one opportunity of many that your company could offer. Check with your employer to see what kinds of possible childcare benefits they offer.


Reach Out to Family

It takes a village to take care of those you love. If you have close family that lives nearby, consider asking them for help, whether it’s a full-time or part-time arrangement. With that, be understanding and flexible when it comes to their schedules and consider offering an amount of money that would include transportation and food costs. Some family members will decline, but it is always better to offer!

Sources: Care.com, Washington Center for Equitable Growth, The Hechinger Report

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