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Free child care assistance in North Carolina.

State of North Carolina and federal government funds can assist with paying child care costs for low income families or offer free day care. Additional assistance can be provided by your local county or town as well. Find how to apply below for affordable and/or free daycare in North Carolina below. While the government assistance provided will not usually pay your entire expense, it can assist. Vouchers can often pay a large portion of your overall child or day care obligations. This payment is also known as a subsidy.

The state's of North Carolina's Division of Child Development oversees the program across the region and also partners with the federal government to receive the grants. The amount of financial aid is established on an annual basis and it can change. In addition, the amount provided to each county in the region is also determined by various rules and legislation.

You will need to contact your county department of social services in order to apply for free child care vouchers. Or call 919-733-3055. A number of conditions need to be met and other factors will also come into play.

Funding is limited and the county you live in may set priorities for who gets assistance. As just one example, your local social service office may provide support to a working family or parent who needs affordable child care or they may support those who need child protective services.

Other key considerations will be the family's total income, the cost of the child care needed, the applicants personal background and situational criteria, and the number of people in the household. You also need to be working, attending school or some type of job training. Each county has their own funding to allocate.

If after applying for the free service, if it is determined that the family meets the eligibility criteria for assistance, then the the state of North Carolina will pay a portion of the cost of the residents child care. There is a lot of flexibility with the program as well. Parents who benefit will be able to choose a child care provider and arrangement of their choice, provided they have been pre-approved. So family's are empowered to select the provider that best meets their needs, as long as they are part of the state's Subsidized Child Care Program.




As indicated, the provider needs to be approved and eligible to participate. So while parents (or legal guardians) may select who they want to use for their day care, there are some restrictions on approvals. However families can select from one or more of the following, including, but not limited to, family homes, licensed child care centers, church or religious-sponsored programs, and informal arrangements as well. This can include care by a relative, friend, or even a grandparent. The provider needs to meet safety standards, be operating legally and they also need to agree to the conditions for the receipt of government funds and subsidies.

Individuals that are currently enrolled in Head Start may still benefit from this North Carolina subsidy as well. You will need to do this by relying on both resources. For examples, qualified families with young children or infants that are found to be qualified for Head Start may have their child care subsidized for those parts of the day when Head Start does not operate. During the time frames when they are in the Head Start program, assistance will not be provided.

If and when you are enrolled, you can change your provider. While this is discouraged and conditions will need to be met, it is a possibility. Individuals will need to work with their social worker on this in order to make arrangements. Individuals will need to consider all options before taking this step.

Additional flexibility is provided if you move to a new town or county. Since your current county is responsible for payment of services for that particular family, they need to be involved if someone relocates. Individuals need to be aware that when a family moves to another county within North Carolina, if the subsidy is not funded for the place you are moving to then your assistance could end. Be sure to coordinate closely with your social worker.





Applying for free or low cost daycare in North Carolina

Social Services is at 919-733-3055. Another option for families in North Carolina is Smart Start funding. This is a completely separate resource and it can also help working parents pay for their child care. If you are interested in learning more about this service, you will need to call your county or regional Smart Start Partnership. Call 919-821-7999.

By Jon McNamara

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