Government-Assisted Child Care

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Finding a child care program or facility that meets the needs of a child with Cerebral Palsy is an expensive undertaking. Luckily, families that meet a certain set of criteria can take advantage of government funding and supports.

Child care made easier for families in need

The first and most vital concern a parent has with child care is the provider’s response to their child’s needs. A secondary, but nearly as important concern, is the cost of care.

Families that are pushed to the limit financially – and even those that are not – are faced with practical decisions about how to handle child care on behalf of young people every day. If a child has special needs, parents must seek additional requirements from providers – ability to provide for a non-verbal child, non-mobile child, a child with feeding difficulties, and a child that may require toileting beyond the toddler years. The parents must find a solution to provide care, and they must assume costs that can be prohibitive.

One way parents can accommodate the child care conundrum is to seek out government assistance. Fortunately, the government has allocated funds that qualifying families can use to defray, or eliminate altogether, the cost of child care services.

How expensive is child care?

By all accounts, child care costs for center-based or off-site care are soaring. Despite the fact that more children than ever before attend some form of child care, costs are continuing to expand out of reach of average income earners.

In a recent report, the industry group Child Care Aware estimates that it’s as expensive to send an infant to a traditional day care facility as it is to send a young adult to college. Several factors caused a surge in costs, including escalating food costs, ballooning insurance premiums and increased regulations.

Costs are variable depending on where a family lives. In Mississippi, the average cost in 2012 was about $4,800. But in Massachusetts, the cost was $16,000 annually, according to the report. On average, child care comprised about 18 percent of a family’s budget, the report indicated.

With expenses outpacing income growth, all families are concerned with child care costs. But for families that include a child with disabilities – most of whom face expenses not incurred by other families – it can be difficult to make ends meet. Too often, the expense of child care can force difficult choices, such as leaving a job, or turning to non-licensed operators, which may leave children vulnerable.

Is it common for a parent to seek child care services for a child with disabilities?

Parents of children with disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy have responsibilities. These obligations are the same as those faced by other parents, with the added stressors of helping a child cope, and learn to work within, his or her disability.

It’s a misconception that parents of children with disabilities don’t need, or want, child care services. It’s also a misconception that center-based programs are unavailable to children with disabilities; centers are required to accommodate children with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

How can I find a respected child care program?

There are a couple of places one can go to find a credentialed child care center or provider, including the Office of Child Care Technical Assistance, or CCTAN.
Not only does CCTAN offer assistance and resources to states, territories, and local communities, it also provides information about standards child care centers should meet or exceed.

Another resource is the Child Care Resource & Referral Network, or CCR&R, which provides referrals to agencies in most states. CCR&Rs base their recommendations on the following criteria:

  • Best practices
  • Monitoring activities
  • Training
  • Affordability

What government programs or funding sources help to defray the cost of child care services?

The most commonly used source of government aid when it comes to child care is the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF program.

Under this program, 30 percent of state allocations can be spent directly on child care by the Child Care and Development Block Grant program. This means that if a person meets TANF qualifications, he or she may receive funds that are paid directly to a child care provider. The states have individual guidelines as to who can take advantage of such funds, which are allocated each year by the federal government.

Generally, a family will need to qualify for TANF assistance, which is purely based on whether or not a family meets poverty guidelines.

TANF is not the only government assisted source of monies for child care, however. The Child Care Subsidy Program is available to parents with children under the age of 13, or that have disabilities, at the discretion of state social service agencies that administer the program on a local basis.

To receive assistance, parents must:

  • Meet low-income eligibility requirements
  • Attend classes or work at least 20 hours per week

To receive assistance through the subsidy program, a child care center must be fully-licensed by the state, if a state requires it

Parents must be able to provide social services personnel with:

  • Tax forms of pay stubs as income verification (including child support)
  • Proof of address
  • Birth certificates for children
  • Medical information about a child’s condition
  • Immunization verification
  • School registration, if a parent attends college or vocational training

In some cases, the subsidy program may help defray the costs of care if services are provided by an immediate family member. Also, the program may pay for a child care provider who is not related to a child to come into a home. In this circumstance, states typically require that a provider is at least 18 years old.
The requirements of each state program varies because it’s administered locally.

Payment from the subsidy program may not cover all of the expenses related to child care; it’s intended to aid families with the expense, not completely cover it. A determination will be made regarding how many hours will be paid for, and parents will be responsible for costs beyond those hours. If a parent does not pay a provider, he or she may lose eligibility to participate in the program.

Generally, assistance will begin about two weeks after an application is approved. There is no limit to how long a person can receive assistance beyond a child with special needs turning 19 years old. Parents may be asked to re-apply for benefits periodically so social services representatives can ensure the family still meets all qualifications.

What non-profit sources are available to help families with child care costs?

Sometimes, non-profit agencies may run their own child care programs that can offer care at a reduced cost. Most often these centers are fully credentialed and meet the same benchmarks as other centers. More information is available about these centers at a state’s Health and Human Services Department.

Child Care

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Child Care


Finding a child care program or facility that meets the needs of a child with Cerebral Palsy is an expensive undertaking. Luckily, families that meet a certain set of criteria can take advantage of government funding and supports.
Child Care
Government-Assisted Child Care

Child Tax Credits

Ask your tax consultant if you are eligible for:

Ask your employer if they offer pre-tax accounts for child and dependent care.

Government Assistance

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Government Assistance

Government assistance – also known as public assistance – is aid, service or supports that are provided to an individual by a government agency based on established criteria – income, disability, dependency or need, for example. Government resources come in the form of cash, food, services, shelter, technology, supports, and more.
Government Assistance