Affording High-Quality Child Care

 


 

You found quality care. Now what?

You found a high-quality child care program and are ready to enroll your child, but how do you pay for it? Do you qualify for publicly-funded programs? Learn more about qualifying for subsidy and supplemental payment programs available for families below:

 

Federal Poverty Guidelines 2020
Persons in
Household
100% 200% 300%
1 $12,760 $25,520 $38,280
2 $17,240 $34,480 $51,720
3 $21,720 $43,440 $65,160
4 $26,200 $52,400 $78,600
5 $30,680 $61,360 $92,040
6 $35,160 $70,320 $105,480
7 $39,640 $79,280 $118,920
8 $44,120 $88,240 $132,360

 

Pre-K Counts

Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts provides high-quality pre-kindergarten services to three- and four-year-old children at no cost to families.

Eligibility

To be eligible, children must live in families that earn no more than 300 percent of the federal poverty level (see above). If eligible, Pre-K Counts is offered in school districts, Keystone STARS 3 and 4 child care programs, Head Start programs, and licensed nursery schools.

Application

To learn if you’re eligible and to apply, visit the COMPASS website or contact your local Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC).

Child Care Works

The Child Care Works subsidized child care program helps low-income families pay their child care fees and is managed by the Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) office located in your county.

Eligibility

To be eligible, families must earn no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level (see above); meet work or education requirements; and meet other eligibility requirements. If eligible, your local ELRC will provide a child care subsidy that will pay a portion of your child care cost. Families will be held liable for the remaining cost, which is referred to as a “family co-pay.” Both the subsidy payment and the family co-pay will go directly to the child care program.

Application

To learn if you’re eligible and to apply, contact your local ELRC.

Head Start

Head Start is primarily a federally-funded program that provides education, health, and social services to families with children ages three, four, or five. Head Start programs help children develop academic and social skills that prepare them for school and life. While enrolled in a high-quality Head Start pre-kindergarten program, children receive nutrition, health, and other supports that help them grow mentally, physically, and socially. Families are also offered support to help them obtain services for a variety of needs, including employment and housing.

Eligibility

To be eligible, families must earn no more than 100 percent of the federal poverty level (see above). If eligible, the pre-kindergarten program will be available for free. Due to limited funding, Pennsylvania Head Start only provides services to a limited number of children and families. However, a waiting list is available if all spots are filled.

Application

To learn if you’re eligible and to apply, contact your local Head Start program or Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC).

Early Head Start

Early Head Start serves pregnant women and families with children from birth to age three. Operating similarly to Head Start, Early Head Start works to ensure that every child receives high-quality services that help them grow physically, academically, and socially and that families obtain needed services to help them become self-sufficient. The program may be offered as center-based or home-based services and is free.

Eligibility

To be eligible, families must earn no more than 100 percent of the federal poverty level (see above). Due to limited funding, Pennsylvania Early Head Start only provides services to a limited number of children and families. However, a waiting list is available if all spots are filled.

Application

To learn if you’re eligible and to apply, contact your local Head Start program or Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC).

More Information

Even if you do not qualify at the levels listed above, many programs offer their own independent scholarships or tuition assistance programs. Ask each program you are considering financial assistance. For more information, contact your local ELRC. If you live in Allegheny County, contact ELRC Region 5 at 412.350.3575 for more information.

Information provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services

 

Image: Five young children play together on a tire swing at a local child care program.

Series Navigation

The Developmentally Appropriate Parenting Series highlights several early childhood topics to support parents and caregivers who are caring for young children. Use the list below to navigate through each series topic:

Learn more about the series.

 

Picture: A young baby looks up at the camera.
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