Child Care

Finding Affordable Child Care

May 10, 2018

With all the options and information about child care out there, it's easy to get lost. It also does not help with the fact that it is getting expensive. According to a 2017 report by Child Care Aware, child care for two children costs more than owning a home with a mortgage in 35 states. Child care is taking a lot out of working parents' incomes.

Rising Costs

What kinds of prices are you likely to find in child care? While it's obviously expensive based on the information above, what are the actual figures? To answer that question, a 2018 article by Bankrate gave several examples of costs for different types of child care. Here is a summary:1

  • Daycare – In 2016, infant care at a center cost averaged $10,926 a year nationwide, and in-home care cost $7,961. For toddlers, those prices ranged on average from $7,398 to $9,562.
  • Nanny – In 2016, nannies made about $13.63 an hour as a minimum. Hiring a nanny can be more expensive than just their salary. Costs can also include income tax, unemployment, Social Security, and Medicare.
  • Au Pair – If you're unfamiliar, au pairs are like nannies, but live under your roof. They provide their services in exchange for room and board. They are also usually foreigners working as part of a program. Costs can include yearly "agency fees" between $7,800 to $10,000. This is on top of a weekly stipend of about $200 to $250, plus room and board costs.
  • Babysitter – Babysitters earn about $13.87 an hour, but prices can vary based on several factors.

Getting the Help You Need

A good place to start looking is your local Department of Human Services (DHS) office. You can find an office near you by using DHS' office locator. You may be looking for a general office or a more specialized one. In the latter case, you can filter your results to only show a specific office. You can also search for child care referrals in your county by using the Illinois workNet Service Finder.

Once you've found an office, you can start exploring different child care services. Here are a few examples to get you started:

Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP)

This program is geared toward low-income, working families. The goal of CCAP is to provide affordable child care. It allows parents to continue working, while ensuring their children are properly taken care of. CCAP doesn't just serve one type of person. Here are a few examples of others who can receive services:

  1. Families on TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). They must also be involved in education and training programs according to their Responsibility and Service Plans (RSPs).
  2. Teen parents aiming for a high school degree, GED, or a similar educational recognition.
  3. Families enrolled in further education programs to increase their job skills.

If you're unsure if you qualify, DHS has a calculator on their website that can help you find out.

You can apply for the program online here. Alternatively, if you'd rather fill out a paper application, you can do so here.

Early Child Care and Education

The Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (INCCRRA) is another resource to check out. INCCRA is a resource that administers high quality and affordable care options available for children and families in Illinois. It is available throughout the state. Also, true to its name, it is related to 16 other state agencies.

Head Start

The Illinois Head Start Association was created in 1978. Its goal is to provide services for all members of its community. These include directors, staff, parents, and friends. It also aims to strengthen child development in the state. Head Start is responsible for many helpful programs across Illinois.

You can find a Head Start program using their center locator.

Migrant Head Start

If you are a low-income migrant or seasonal farm worker, you may consider checking out Migrant Head Start. The services provided by this program include:

  • Child care.
  • Health.
  • Parental involvement.
  • Social services.

Note that to be eligible, your child or children must be under the age of 6.

You can read more about the program here.

Child Support

Child support is money paid by a parent for the benefit of their child. The payer is usually the parent who does not have custody of the child. This type of support can be used to pay for child care. Child support is often arranged as terms of an event such as:

  • Divorce.
  • Marital separation.
  • Marriage annulment.



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