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Parents need to do their homework, when it comes to finding help to pay for child care

Child Care Aware of Virginia and United Way's Smart2Start are a couple of good resources
Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 6:12 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Now that many school systems are planning a hybrid or all-virtual class schedule for the fall, families may be having to budget extra money for child care. And that’s not always easy.

Child care centers, like everything else, are having to change the way they operate.

Thanks to COVID-19, centers now have smaller capacity to allow for social distancing.

The United Way of Roanoke Valley through Smart2Start, along with other non-profits and child care providers, is working to bring more options.

“We really want to support working families, so they’re not leaving young children, seven-, eight-, nine-year-olds home alone,” says Vivien McMahan of the United Way of Roanoke Valley.

Child Care Aware of Virginia is also answering the call during these challenging times.

“Our overall mission is to make quality child care accessible and affordable for all Virginia families,” says Sarah Vaughan of Child Care Aware of Virginia. We do that by working directly both with the childcare providers and also working directly with families.”

As it works to find that perfect child care match, the organization also offers consumer education for parents.

Vaughan says, “We work with parents to help educate them on what they should be looking for in a quality child care setting, what their options are for financial assistance, and then we maintain a database of all regulated childcare programs.”

Speaking of financial assistance, there are plenty of resources.

Among them, Vaughan suggests looking into the childcare subsidy program offered through social services for low-income families.

That's one of many options.

“A lot of providers will offer scholarships, some negotiable rates, or a sliding scale, or maybe a sibling discount or a military discount,” says Vaughan.

“So, we definitely look at the more vulnerable families first. Typically, between 200 and 250 percent of the federal poverty rate is the average guideline to go by. But that’s not the end-all story and there’s other factors that definitely come into play,” says McMahan.

Bottom line, parents need to do their homework to find out what financial help is available for them.

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