Free child care is possible to obtain, especially via government-funded, nationwide programs. In today’s financially turbulent times, it’s not uncommon to struggle with basic family expenses. Thankfully, there’s hope. Keep reading to get a breakdown of government child care programs and state-by-state agencies.
Overview of Government-Funded Child Care Programs
Raising a child can be quite costly. Thankfully, there are government-funded free child care programs that can assist you with coverage (you can also find more info regarding these programs here). Firstly, there are child care subsidies, which are also known as vouchers and fee assistance.
Financial assistance from the government is given to each state so they can run their own child care subsidy programs. It’s worth noting that requirements for these programs differ from state to state.
Additionally, there are Head Start and Early Head Start programs that aid children in preparing for school by supporting their emotional, mental, and social development. Low-income families that meet the requirements may be eligible for Head Start. Click here to learn more.
State-funded prekindergarten programs are available for children between the ages of three and five. These programs are offered to low-income families at little to no cost. Go here to find your state CCR&R (Child Care Resource and Referral) agency to see if there’s a state-funded prekindergarten program near you.
Free child care programs are also for members of the military with children. Child Care Aware of America oversees these programs. Of course, requirements vary for each service branch. Head over here to learn more.
Free Child Care and Low-Cost Programs By State
Alabama Department of Human Resources offers a child care subsidy program. The objective is to provide affordable and equal access to child care for low-income families. Currently in Alabama there are three Child Care Management Agencies in nine regions. You may qualify for free child care if you meet the eligibility requirements. Click here to learn more.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services offers child care as part of their public assistance program offerings. Eligibility is based on your total monthly gross income by family size. Go here to get more information and find the application checklist.
Arizona’s Department of Economic Security, Child Care Administration offers free or low-cost child care to those who qualify. Their site explains eligibility requirements and reasons for requiring child care assistance. Click here for more information and to apply for aid.
The Arkansas Department of Human Services has a child care assistance program available to those who need it. Adults residing in your household must be employed at least 30 hours per week, be enrolled in classes full time, or a combination of the two. The program serves children from birth through 12 years of age. Go here to learn more and find out how to apply for assistance.
California’s Department of Social Services boasts a program called CalWORKs, where you may receive free or low-cost care for your children if you are employed or participating in county approved Welfare-to-Work activities. You must contact your county’s local welfare office to apply, but you can head over here to get the scoop.
The Colorado Office of Early Childhood gives you the option of applying for assistance online, by mail, or by reaching out to your local county’s department of human and social services. Every 12 months, you’ll be sent a Redetermination of Eligibility form to ensure that you’re still eligible for free child care/low-cost child care. Go here for more info.
Connecticut’s Care 4 Kids program provides financial aid to low-income families for child care. Children must be under 13 years of age, and you must be employed or attending a “temporary cash assistance-approved education or training activity.” Click here to learn more and to apply.
The Delaware government website boasts a child care program aimed at supporting families who need to work or obtain training, children who must be protected from abuse, and more. Care is available for children under the age of 13, and certain eligibility requirements must be met. Older children with special needs may also be eligible to receive child care. Go here for more info.
The Office of Early Learning in Florida offers financial assistance for child care, and may provide free child care for those who qualify. Additionally, they have a School Readiness Program to help low-income families afford early childhood education. Head over here to learn more and to apply.
Childcare and Parent Services of Georgia provides a child care program to certain “priority groups” that qualify. More information and the list of requirements you must meet in order to receive assistance can be found here.
Child Care Connection Hawaii is a program that assists families by paying a subsidy of their child care as long as it’s under DHS-approved providers. Applications are accepted statewide and year-round. Click here to read about eligibility requirements and learn how to apply.
Idaho’s Department of Health & Welfare offers a child care program that serves low-income families with children under 13, or older children who have a disability. There are factors such as family size and gross monthly income which impact eligibility. Go here to learn more.
The Illinois Department of Human Services’ assistance program helps provide low-income families with free or low-cost child care. Eligibility requirements include being a resident of Illinois, being employed or attending school, and having a child under 13 years old. Head over here for more info.
Brighter Futures Indiana has a Child Care and Development Fund (C.C.D.F.). You must be within federal income guidelines in order to receive child care assistance. Go here to read the full eligibility requirements and learn how to apply.
Iowa Department of Human Services offers child care assistance for income-eligible parents who are “absent for a portion of the day due to employment or participation in academic or vocational training.” You can apply online. Click here for more information.
The Kansas Child Care Subsidy Program helps families that are on T.A.N.F., low-income working families, teen parents completing high school, and more. Children must be under 13 years of age. Head over here to learn how to apply.
Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services offers C.C.A.P. (Child Care Assistance Program) for low-income families. You can find all the of the paperwork here.
The objective of Louisiana’s Department of Education is to provide high-quality child care for low-income families that need financial support. Go here to read the eligibility requirements and to apply.
Maine’s Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP) offers free child care or low-cost child care for low-income residents of Maine. You can apply by mail, visit your local DHHS office, or call the OFCS. Click here to learn more.
Maryland’s Division of Early Childhood sports a Child Care Scholarship Program that provides financial assistance to income-eligible families in Maryland. Head over here to learn about whether you qualify, and to apply for aid.
The state of Massachusetts offers early education and care financial assistance for families that need it. Your gross income must be at or below 50 percent of the state median income. Click here for more information and to learn how to apply.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services provides financial assistance if you cannot afford to pay for child care. If you’re interested in learning more and want to apply for aid, head over here.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services helps make quality care affordable for low-income families who are struggling to pay for child care. Of course, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. Go here to read all about it and to apply.
Mississippi Child Care Certificate Program is a federally-funded program that aims to provide financial assistance to low-income families for child care. You may qualify if you meet the income and work requirements. Click here for more info.
Missouri’s Department of Social Services assists eligible parents and guardians with child care payments. If you’re interested, head over here to peruse the program’s guidelines and learn how to apply.
The Montana official state website offers the “Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship Program.” You’ll be supported financially to ensure that your children receive high-quality child care. Go here to learn more and complete an application
Nebraska also provides child care assistance to low-income families that need it. Head over here to peruse eligibility guidelines and to apply.
Nevada’s child care subsidy program assists low-income families with affording high-quality child care for their kids. This program is aimed toward children 12 years of age and younger. Click here to get more info and learn how to apply.
You may be eligible for New Hampshire’s Child Care Scholarship if you’re employed, utilizing F.A.N.F., or attending school. Click here for more information.
New Jersey offers a child care subsidy program for low-income families struggling to pay for child care. If you’re interested in applying for aid, go here to learn more.
The Early Childhood Education & Care Department of New Mexico provides child care financial assistance for families that are at or below 200% of the federal income poverty level. Click here for more info.
New York’s Division of Child Care Services assists low-income families with covering the cost of child care. Go here to read the eligibility guidelines and find out how to apply.
North Carolina provides child care financial assistance for struggling low-income families. For those who qualify, North Carolina’s Division of Child Development pays a portion of the cost of child care. Head over here to learn more.
For those who are working, or attending school or training, North Dakota’s Child Care Assistance Program may help income-eligible families with affording child care. Click here to peruse eligibility requirements and learn how to fill out an application.
Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services provides aid with child care to families who are working or in school. You can apply for assistance online. Go here to scan the guidelines and get more information.
Oklahoma Human Services helps ensure that children are properly cared for while their parents or caregivers are at work. If you need help with affording child care, head over here to get the full scoop.
The Oregon government site offers a child care program, Employment Related Day Care (ERDC), that covers the cost of care for low-income families. You must be employed and your child must be 13 years of age or younger unless they have special needs. Go here for more info.
Pennsylvania’s Child Care Works Program assists low-income families with paying child care fees. You must work more than 20 hours a week, or have a combination of at least 10 hours work and 10 hours of school per week. Click here to peruse the eligibility guidelines and learn how to apply.
The State of Rhode Island’s Department of Human Services offers child care assistance for struggling families. You must meet certain guidelines, so be sure to go here to learn more.
South Carolina boasts a child care voucher program geared toward low-income families who need it. If you are working, in school, in a training program, or have a verified disability, click here to get the full scoop.
South Dakota’s Department of Social Services offers child care assistance to low-income families who meet certain eligibility requirements. Click here to get more information.
Tennessee boasts a statewide child care assistance program that assists low-income families with covering the cost of care for their kids. Their program is committed to promoting safe, healthy, and educationally rich childhood environments. If you’re interested, head over here to learn more and how to apply.
The state of Texas offers child care assistance for low-income families with kids that are under the age of 13. Go here to peruse all the guidelines and to apply.
Utah has the Employment Support Child Care program that provides assistance for low-income families that need child care. A single parent must work at least 15 hours a week, and have an eligible child under the age of 13 and/or a special needs child under the age of 18. Click here to get the full scoop.
Vermont’s child care assistance program is there to assist with cost coverage for struggling families. There are certain income requirements that must be met, so go here to peruse them and to apply.
Virginia’s The Child Care Subsidy Program provides assistance if you need help paying for child care. You must be employed or actively engaged in a job search. Go here to learn more and find out how to apply.
The District of Columbia has a subsidized child care program helps “income-eligible families pay their child care fees.” Families who receive T.A.N.F. (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) qualify for assistance. You must visit the Child Care Services Division in person to apply for aid. Head over here to learn more.
Washington’s Child Care Subsidy Program assists low-income families with child care. You can learn all about income eligibility requirements and much more by clicking here.
West Virginia’s Child Care Program has an objective — to give aid to low-income families so they can afford child care. If you’re interested, go here to read the guidelines and find out how to apply.
The Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy program assists eligible families with a portion of the cost of child care while the parents are working or in school. Click here to learn more.
Wyoming’s Department of Family Services provides a subsidy program that helps provide aid to low-income families for child care. There are eligibility requirements that must be met, so be sure to go here to get the full scoop.