As a licensed childcare provider operating my own childcare business for over seven years, I learned some valuable techniques to help families save on childcare expenses. These methods helped the families I cared for save money on their childcare expenses while allowing my childcare business to meet its own financial demands.
Many government, state, and local agencies exist to assist families with a financial need to pay for childcare costs. When I operated my childcare I participated in the military subsidy program. This program allows active-duty military parents to pay childcare costs on a sliding scale based on their family size and income. Other programs are available from state and local agencies for non-military families. Conduct some research online for your area on childcare subsidy programs to determine your eligibility. If you qualify then ask your childcare provider or center if they would be willing and able to participate in the program. Subsidy agencies also often have a list of participating providers and centers to help during the initial childcare search.
Vacation or Other Time Off
Negotiate with your childcare provider to add vacation time into the contract before you start care. Many childcare providers and centers charge families when they take time off for vacations in order to hold the child’s space. If your family always takes a set amount of time off for a vacation each year you may be able to add this into your contract. Ask your provider to add a note in the contract that allows for your child to be out of care for a vacation for a set amount of time each year without cost. When I was a childcare provider I added this into the contract for my families, which reduced the stress of time off all around. I knew in advance that I would have two weeks off unpaid for each child annually and could plan my budget accordingly. The families in my care knew they could take vacation without incurring childcare expenses and still have a space available for their child when they returned. I was also able to use this technique for teachers needing childcare on a school year only basis.
If your family only needs part-time childcare, consider working with another family in a similar situation to share childcare expenses. I had a couple of families in my care use this method. Both moms worked part-time from home but needed time to meet with clients and attend meetings uninterrupted. One child would be in childcare Monday and Wednesday and the other Tuesday and Thursday, they alternated Fridays. Splitting care enabled both families to receive a weekly rate lower than the usual part-time-hourly rate and still have regular childcare to meet their professional needs. It is often difficult for families to find consistent childcare on a part-time basis because childcare providers need to fill their limited available spaces with a full-time client to meet financial and regulatory requirements. Splitting a full-time childcare space between two families can help both the families and the childcare provider by alleviating both issues.
Many childcare providers and centers offer a sibling discount. If you have more than one child in the same childcare you could save up to ten percent or more per child on your childcare expenses. Added up annually, this could result in a significant savings.
Paying monthly rather than weekly. By receiving payment for childcare fees upfront monthly, childcare providers feel more secure that they are paid for the time they put into caring for your child. This security is valuable and will often net parents who are able to use this method a discount on childcare fees.
Older child discount. Once a child no longer requires diapers or bottle feedings, childcare providers and centers often offer a reduced childcare rate. I offered this option with my own childcare business providing a reduced childcare rate for toddlers and another discount for school-age children.