If you are a parent in Oklahoma looking for affordable daycare, here's some good news: the state has plenty of options if you know where to find them.
In this blog post, we're going to explore ways to find these daycare help you so desperately need on a budget you can actually afford. From childcare subsidies to free preschool programs, Oklahoma has resources for parents scraping by and just trying to make ends meet while ensuring their loved ones are well cared for during the day. The solutions and programs are out there; you just have to know where to find them.
Understanding the Costs of Daycare in Oklahoma
Daycare in Oklahoma isn’t cheap. According to a recent report, the average cost of full-time daycare for an infant in Oklahoma is around $8,000 a year. For a 4-year-old, it’s still over $6,500.
Understanding the different options
There's a couple main types of daycare to consider:
- Center-based daycare: Typically an expensive option. Centers are licensed and regulated, with many children and staff. Cost depends on the center and services offered.
- Family daycare: Managed by a licensed child-care provider, often in their own home. Less expensive than a center. Family daycares have a smaller number of children and more flexibility.
- In-home nanny or au pair: Typically the most expensive type of care. A nanny provides one-on-one care in your own home. Au pairs, who are from another country, often live in your home in exchange for child care and educational opportunities.
- Relative or friend care: Having a trusted relative, friend, or neighbor watch your child in their home could be an affordable option, but make sure anyone caring for your child is properly vetted.
Finding Affordable Licensed Daycares
Finding affordable daycare options in Oklahoma sometimes feels overwhelming, especially if money is lower. But don’t lose hope! There is more resources out there to help.
Child Care or Tax Credits
First, check if you qualify for government assistance like subsidized child care or tax credits. Programs like the Child Care Subsidy Program and Child Tax Credit can help offset costs. Apply through the Oklahoma Department of Human Services website.
Next, look into non-profit organizations in your area. Places like the YMCA, churches, and children’s centers often offer lower-cost child care and preschool programs. Some even offer scholarships or a sliding-scale payment plan based on your income.
Licensed Family Daycare or Nanny Share Programs
Speaking of in-home daycares, you could find lower rates with a licensed family daycare or nanny share program. Check sites like Care.com or UrbanSitter which allow you to compare costs and check reviews from some other parents. Make sure any provider you consider is properly licensed and insured.
With digging, you can find affordable daycare in Oklahoma. Don’t be afraid to ask about payment plans or referrals. And once you find care you’re comfortable with, you're going to have peace of mind knowing your family members needing services is in good hands while you’re at work.
Exploring Subsidized and Income-Based Daycare Options
If you’re on a budget in Oklahoma, subsidized and income-based daycare options help make childcare more affordable. These programs offer daycare at a reduced cost based on your income and family size.
Head Start is a federal child care program that provides free or low-cost daycare and preschool for families with young kids. In Oklahoma, Head Start serves kids from children ages birth to 5. To qualify, your family income must be below the federal poverty guidelines. Head Start focuses on child development and school readiness, with many locations also providing resources for parents.
Oklahoma Child Care Subsidy Program
The Child Care Subsidy Program helps parents pay for childcare. If you qualify, the program will pay a portion of your daycare costs at an approved child-care provider of your choice. The amount of financial assistance depends on factors like your income, family size, and the age of your child. To apply, contact your local Department of Human Services (DHS) office.
Some non-profit daycares in Oklahoma offer lower fees for needy families who qualify based on their income. For example, the YMCA and some church-affiliated daycares provide income-based rates. Fees are often calculated on a sliding scale, where you pay a percentage of the total cost based on what you can afford. These daycares aim to make care accessible to families of all income levels.
Check with daycares in your area about subsidized or income-based options. Don’t hesitate to explain your situation—many understand the challenges of finding affordable childcare and want to help. With persistence, you can find daycare help that fits your budget.
Getting Creative: Nanny Shares, Co-Ops and More
When money is tight, daycare costs can seem out of reach. But don’t lose hope! There are creative childcare options if you know where to look.
Sharing a nanny with another family is a great way to split costs. Work with another family with children around the same age to hire a nanny to watch the kids together. You’ll each pay a portion of the nanny’s salary and any additional costs. Nanny shares do require coordination to align your needs, but the savings can make it worthwhile.
Childcare co-ops are parent-run groups where families take turns watching each other’s children. Parents volunteer their time, and costs are minimal. To start a co-op, connect with other families in your neighborhood or community and work together on a schedule where parents swap childcare duties on certain days. Co-ops may require more effort to organize but can be an extremely affordable option.
Don’t overlook resources in your own community. Some places of worship, recreation centers, schools, and non-profits often offer childcare programs, classes or playgroups with low or sliding-scale fees. Check with organizations you already support to see if they have resources for families. Local Facebook parenting groups or websites like Care.com can also help connect you with childcare options in your area.
If full-time daycare isn’t realistic, consider an alternative schedule. Use a daycare center part-time and fill in the gaps with a nanny share, co-op or community programs. Or, stagger your work schedules with your partner so someone is always home to provide child support. Getting creative with the hours and combining multiple options may provide the childcare solution you need at a price you can afford.
Where there’s a will, there is a way. Look at your options with an open and optimistic mindset. With some persistence and ingenuity, you could find an affordable childcare solution for your family.
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