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Where to Get Childcare While You Go to School

Oct 3, 2013 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Education.org Columnist | 0 Comments

Getting childcare while you go to school isn’t easy. If you don’t already have built-in childcare in the form of a spouse, live-in parent, older children, or someone else ready and willing to step in at any time, it can be tough to afford childcare while you study. But it’s not impossible. Here are a few options for childcare for cash-strapped students.

From friends and family

If you have a supportive spouse who’s ready and able to take on all childcare duties whenever you need to study, you’re lucky. But even if you’re a single parent or someone whose spouse has a full-time job and time as limited as yours, you may have some options. If there is someone in your family or circle of friends who could potentially help with childcare while you’re studying, now is the time to call in a few favors. Talk to your family members—parents, siblings, a spouse—and see who can offer to take their kids in exchange for babysitting when you have classes or need study time—or barter other help if you can.

From your school

Some traditional schools offer on-campus child care for students with families. In fact, you can find lists of schools that offer child care the country and throughout the CUNY school system in New York here.

If you’re enrolled in an accredited online college, your college most likely won’t offer childcare programs on-site—unless you’re going to a school that also has a traditional campus. However, you could still talk to a student services representative about local resources they could potentially put you in contact with. Online schools are often more accustomed to dealing with students who are also parents, and may have community connections that could help.

From the government

The government offers to subsidize the cost of a licensed day care program to help families in certain situations pay for childcare. The subsidy is administered at the state level, and every state’s rules are different; some states only subsidize childcare for low-income parents who are working, for instance, while others include going to school as a qualifying activity. To qualify, you must meet income requirements as well.

But even if you don’t qualify for childcare subsidies, you may qualify for CCAMPIS (Child Care Access Means Parents In School) grants. These grants provide funding specifically for adult learners with childcare responsibilities who are going back to school. 

You could also qualify for childcare subsidies through Head Start. This program is also administered at the state level, but it’s designed for low-income parents who are going to school. The link above is specific to New York, but gives a good general overview. To find your state’s Head Start program, search for “your state + Head Start” online.

Some states also offer childcare grants specifically for students. For example, Minnesota and Oregon both have programs for adult students with children. Do a search for “your state + childcare grant” and see what you come up with.

A qualified babysitter

You could always hire the neighbor’s older son or daughter to watch your kids. But if you don’t have that kind of option, you could search online at websites such as SitterCity.com or Care4Hire.com to find a babysitter in your area with the right qualifications. 

Getting childcare while you go back to school isn’t always easy. But there are more resources out there than you think. The government provides a number of subsidy programs, many designed specifically for low-income families with childcare needs and a parent returning to school. Do some research online or ask around among fellow students, and find a grant program or government funding, try to get your family and friends to help, or, if all else fails, look for qualified babysitters in your area—and you should be able to find a childcare option that works for you and your family.

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