Quick Guide to Finding Free or Low-Cost Child Care Options in NY

Parents know the challenges of balancing work and parenting.  Finding reliable child care then figuring out how to pay for it, are just some of the issues to worry about.  If you are of limited income there are resources to help you find and finance child care.

This cheat sheet of useful organizations, resources, and websites, provides you with the information you need to get started on your search and learn about all of your options.

First keep this simple tip in mind - the first place to start in your search for child care assistance and information are your local county agencies.  The key county agencies that you should reach out to and work with are:

  • Local county Department of Social Services (DSS)
  • Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (CCRR).
  • Head Start
  • Your local Department of Social Service can help you find and pay for child care.  This subsidy is available for specific situations:
    • Help you maintain work or engage in other work-related activities.
    • Teen parents that attend high school or equivalent training.
    • Parents/caretakers who are physically or mentally disabled, have family duties away from home, or who are attending post-secondary school while working at least 17.5 hours per week.

To find the contact information for your local county Department of Social Services, click here and look at list starting at pg. 90.

  • The Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (CCRR) can help you find low-cost child care in every county of New York State.  To find your local county CCRR office, search in this database.
  • Head Start is a federal program that helps children ages birth to five years old from low-income families prepare for school. In addition to education, the program provides health, nutrition, and social services depending on your family’s needs. For a complete list of Head Start programs in New York, click herethen search for all of New York.

Additional Resources:

  • If you want to search for a low-cost provider on your own, you can use the NY Office of Children and Family Services online database to search for reputable child care services in all of New York.  You can access this database by clicking here: Listing of Child Care providers in NY.
  • ChildAware.org has a wealth of useful information on how to find child care, what you should expect, what to do if you have concerns about a child care program, and more.  Click here to visit ChildAware.org.
  • If you have concerns about a child care program in your area, you can follow these steps to filing a complaint: How do I file a complaint against a child care provider? You can also contact this 800 number to file a complaint: 800-394-3366.
  • If you are a military family, do not miss up on additional resources and assistance to help you pay for day care in your area.  The agency in charge of this is the NACCRRA.  To read more about how to contact the NACCRRA and request help, click here.

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