Child care costs are are one of the most expensive costs associated with going back to work. Finding ways to cut down on child care costs without sacrificing quality child care is a top priority for all working parents. Here are a few ideas that can help trim your child care costs without sacrificing child care quality:
See if your employer has a child care flexible spending account. This is a special account that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - http://www.irs.gov/faqs/faq-kw87.html - created that allows you to set aside money for child care expenses with pre-tax dollars. You ask your employer to take out a certain amount of money each month from your paycheck and you can use this money tax free for child care related expenses.
Inquire if your company has partnerships or offers discounts for certain child care provider services. some larger companies will sometimes negotiate discount plans with local child care providers to help offset child care costs.
See if your public school district offers a half day pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds. These programs are usually free and by signing-up your child, it will reduce your child care needs to a half day from a full day.
Check to see if your employer would be open to flex hours, job sharing or telecommuting. If so, you may be able to use these to juggle your schedule and cut your child care costs.
If both you and your spouse work, see if it's possible to arrange your work schedules so they overlap as little as possible. This will allow you to reduce the number of hours your child has to spend at child care.
See if there is a relative or good friend that can help with child care.
Consider hiring a nanny and sharing the cost of child care with a few good friends. This will allow you to pay less individually for child care costs and the nanny will make more money overall.
For a list of child care resource and referral agencies, you can visit the Child Care Aware website - http://www.childcareaware.org - which is a nonprofit organization that helps parents find quality child care in their communities.