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Frequently Asked Questions

I need help paying for child care. Where can I get assistance?

To find out about financial assistance for child care, contact your State child care subsidy agency. Go to "State Profiles" on the National Child Care Information Center's website which will appear on your screen if you use the web address:
Scroll down on that web page until you see a U.S. map. Click on your State and then click on "Contacts" at the top of the page. Your agency will be listed under the "Child Care Subsidy Agency" header. This agency will provide you with information about eligibility and how to apply for assistance.

There may also be a local child care resource-and-referral (CCR&R) agency available to you. To find out, call Child Care Aware, toll-free at 1-800-424-2246
Local CCR&Rs provide information on local financial assistance, funding opportunities, and child care providers. They also provide information about choosing quality child care.

You may also want to check out how to get money back from the government under various child care TAX CREDIT programs. Click Here for this information.

How important is the quality of child care?

For more complete guidelines on health and safety in child care, visit the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care ( or call them at (800) 598-KIDS (5437).

Recent brain research suggests that the quality of child care is critical for child development. Our information page on child care quality discusses why quality is important and identifies ways to improve the quality of child care.
See website-

At what age can a child be left home alone or babysit?

Regulations or guidelines on the age limit for a child to be left home alone or to be allowed to babysit may be set by local or State authorities. Often, however, there are no regulations, or even guidelines. See below on how to find out if your locality has them.

Some helpful guidance on these topics, including examples of guidelines established by selected localities, can be found on the website of the National Child Care Information Center (NCCIC), the Child Care Bureau’s clearinghouse, at the following location:

Any questions on this information may be addressed to NCCIC at:

National Child Care Information Center
243 Church Street, NW, 2nd Floor
Vienna, VA 22180

Toll-free phone: 1-800-616-2242
Fax: 1-800-716-2242
TTY: 1-800-516-2242

If your locality does have regulations or guidelines, your local child protective agency or child welfare office should have them. These offices are usually under the county or city government listings in your local phone book. You can also obtain contact information for these local agencies by calling, toll-free, the following numbers:

-- National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information (NCCAN): 1-800-394-3366

NCCAN is part of the Children’s Bureau within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; OR

-- Child Help USA: 1-800-422-4453

Child Help USA is a national organization that provides support to children and their families through a network of over 55,000 emergency, social service, legal and other support resources nationwide.

If you happen to be concerned about the safety of a child in any setting, you may wish to communicate your concerns to your local child protective agency or your local child welfare office. Again, see above for information on how to contact these agencies.

Are there other approaches to reducing my child care costs? I'm not eligible for a subsidy. Are there tax credits for child care? What are the tax credits available for day care?

Information on tax credits from the federal government and free tax help is provided below:

(1) Eligibility for Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): Employed low-income persons—those earning less than $29,201/yr with one child or $33,178/yr with more than one child -- are eligible for a credit of up to $2,506/yr. and $4,140/yr. respectively. You can get this credit in a lump sum at the end of year by filing form 1040 or 1040A along with "Schedule EIC." You can apply for this credit for up to 3 years back. Another way is to receive this credit throughout the year by increasing your take-home pay -- you file form W-5 (EITC Advance Payment Certificate). Ask your employer or call the IRS 800 number for the W-5. Note: You can get an EITC payment even if you owe NO taxes.

(2) Child Tax Credit: You can get a reduction of taxes owed (or a refund if you owe nothing) of up to $600 (depending upon your income) per each dependent child under 17 if you earn more than $10,350 by filing Form 8812 – “Additional Child Tax Credit.”

(3) Child and Dependent Care Credit (CDCC) allows credit for 20%-30% (depending on income) of a family's child care expenses up to a certain limit. You would file the Form called “Child and Dependent Care Expenses.”

(4) Call IRS's toll free number: 800-829-3676 for information on these three Tax Credit programs and the forms needed to apply for them. You can also visit IRS’s website for information:

(5) Free help in preparing tax returns: Call the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Site: 1-800-829-1040.

I think my child care provider is hurting my child. I think a child care giver is hurting a child. What do I do?

Child abuse or neglect in child care is subject to local or State jurisdiction. If you believe that a caregiver is hurting your child or another child, you need to contact your State child care licensing agency. To obtain contact information for this agency, consult the web site of the Child Care Bureau's National Child Care Information Center: On it are State Profiles-- to get them, use the address
--which give a summary of key information about child care in each state. This includes contact information for your State's Child Care Licensing Agency.

Check the following web site for the appropriate phone number in your area where you should report any suspected abuse:

Sites related to child abuse and neglect are found at:

I work, but have no health insurance for my child. Is there a program that can help my family obtain health insurance even if I'm not on welfare?
The State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) may be helpful to you. Working families can apply for assistance under a revised Medicaid program that is independent of the TANF (or welfare) program. Further information about the SCHIP program may be obtained, toll-free, from: 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669)

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