Child Care Assistance: How to Get Free Support

| 7 min read Financial Assistance

Raising a child includes countless moments of joy—but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Perhaps one of the greatest obstacles parents face these days is the high cost of raising their children.

These expenses have increased significantly over the last few decades. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average cost of raising a child to the age of 17 is now $233,610, which doesn’t include college expenses.

If you’re struggling to pay for daycare, healthcare, or housing costs, there are public and private programs that can provide child care assistance so you can focus on your family.

An overview of the largest child care costs

Below, we’ve outlined the major costs parents face when raising a child. They don’t include clothing, food, transportation, or other miscellaneous expenses.

Daycare costs

The soaring cost of daycare is another financial hurdle that working parents have to overcome. Childcare shouldn’t cost more than 7% of a family’s income, according to ChildCare Aware of America, but the average family in all 50 states pays significantly more than that. Daycare in Massachusetts, for example, costs around $20,415 annually—a figure more reflective of college tuition.

Housing costs

It goes without saying that a larger family means a larger home, and that an extra bedroom or bedrooms can really put a dent in the budget. Out of the total amount it costs to raise a child, 29% of that accounts for housing costs, according to the same study by the USDA. To compound the problem, a severe shortage of affordable homes in the US is driving up mortgage prices.

Healthcare costs

Aside from labor and delivery costs, which can run anywhere from $5,000 to $14,000, providing continued healthcare to your child can be a financial struggle for many. Chronic health issues, dental work, and other conditions not covered by insurance can instantly put the monthly budget in the red. A study by the Peterson Center on Healthcare revealed that out of pocket expenses have been on the rise since 1970.

Educations costs

While public schools are far cheaper than private schools, a public education can still cost a pretty penny. Backpacks, notebooks, and field trip expenses—it can all add up. The Arizona Republic reported that parents can expect to pay anywhere from $637 to $1,355 per child on back to school supplies and activities.

If you’d like to send your child to a public school, prices increase dramatically. The average cost to send your child to a private elementary school is $9,398 per year, and the average cost for a private high school is $14,205 per year, according to the website Private School Review. After high school, many parents are left wondering how to pay for college for their children.

Legitimate government programs for child care

When families need help paying for childcare, housing costs, medical care, and daycare, there are government programs in place to help alleviate financial stress. Below are just a few that may help you and your family.

Insure Kids Now

This program aims to provide affordable health insurance to children and teens so they can receive routine check-ups, prescriptions, emergency visits, dental care, and more. Children up to age 19 with a family income up to $49,000 are eligible for the program, though requirements may be different for each state.

Head Start Programs

The Head Start Programs provide children ages birth to five years old from low-income families with free early development and education services. Depending on the location, some Head Start Programs also offer prenatal services to pregnant women.

ChildCare Aware of America

The military offers a number of childcare subsidies to active duty military families that need help paying for daycare costs. There are also programs dedicated specifically to children with special needs. Eligibility requirements may vary, so it’s best to refer to the ChildCare Aware website for more information.

Three surprising sources for child care assistance

Government programs aren’t the only way to find reprieve from mounting child-related expenses. These three under-the-radar sources help bring down costs as well.

1. Local diaper banks

At $80-100 per month, diapers are a huge expense for low-income families. The National Diaper Bank understands this and wants to eliminate the financial barrier that stands between babies and a sufficient supply of diapers. For more information about finding a diaper bank near you, visit the National Diaper Bank online.

2. Discounted daycare through nonprofits

There are quite a few local nonprofit organizations that offer discounts on daycare services to families in need. Some YMCAs, for example, offer an Alternative Payment (AP) daycare program for infants to 13-year-olds. Other local nonprofits or religious organizations may offer sliding scale options for daycare.

3. Free financial coaching

Low-income families can receive financial coaching for free through organizations like LIFT. Through the organization, parents work with their own coach, who offers advice and support on everything from finances to education. LIFT also provides funds for emergencies that may stand in the way of meeting long-term goals.

Online fundraising can help pay for child care

Building an emergency fund isn’t a possibility for everyone, so it can be tough to recover if a personal financial crisis strikes. When this happens, expensive childcare costs can become even more daunting.

Every day, thousands of parents turn to crowdfunding to help offset crucial childcare costs. By starting an online fundraiser, you can begin raising money in a matter of minutes. GoFundMe’s free fundraising platform allows you to keep more of the funds you raise, which means more of your donations can pay for daycare, tuition, or any other child-related expenses.

Our blog also offers plenty of fundraising tips and fundraising ideas to guide you in the right direction. And if you run into any snags, you can reach GoFundMe’s Customer Happiness Team 24/7 through our Help Center.

Real people who crowdfunded for child care costs

When these parents fell on hard times and needed child care assistance, they launched fundraisers through GoFundMe to find financial relief.

Helping Abbey’s Family Thrive

When Abbey’s partner passed away unexpectedly, her world was turned upside down. Abbey had to take a leave from work to care for her four children, all under the age of 13. She also didn’t have a source of income while waiting for Social Security benefits to kick in. Her friend came to her aid and started a GoFundMe to help Abbey pay for food, rent, childcare costs, and other basic necessities. The fundraiser raised over $10,500 in just three months.

Ellingworth Family Emergency Fund

Chase, the father of four children, was involved in a terrible accident that resulted in a broken neck and partial paralysis. Out of work from his construction job, Chase and his wife Veronica worried about how they would continue to support their family while Chase recovered. Veronica’s sister started a GoFundMe that raised over $11,500 to help them during this difficult time.

When the Unthinkable Happens

After a large tree snapped and fell on her, Victoria suffered multiple broken bones and paralysis. Her husband and four children knew she faced a long recovery and a lot of expenses. Family friends turned to GoFundMe to help with child care, housekeeping, and nursing care costs, and raised over $200,000 for Victoria and her family.

Find financial assistance for child care today

From daycare to diapers, the expenses that accompany raising a child can be a financial burden for parents everywhere. GoFundMe offers help for single parents and nuclear families alike. Sign up and create a GoFundMe today to pay for childcare costs, or launch a fundraiser to raise money for a family in need.

Start a fundraiser

Written by Jenna Davis

Asking for help is never easy, but it's my hope that our resources make it a bit easier and empower individuals and organizations to reach their fundraising goals. I believe we can create a better future through generosity and compassion—all it takes is a little bit of support from each of us.