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Ohio free child care assistance programs.

State of Ohio funds can help low income families with paying their child care costs. Any type of assistance provided will be in the form of a subsidy and only a portion of your overall expenses will be paid, however in some cases free daycare can be offered by the state of Ohio. In general most parents will still need to pay a fee or co-payment. The free program is available in every county and it is administered by your local Department of Job and Family Services office, and phone number is below.

In order to receive any form of financial assistance from the state, a number of conditions need to be met by applicants. They include some or all of the following, and the terms may also change over time or vary based on the county you live in.

  • Financial assistance is only offered for families that are working, in school or in job training. Therefore every adult family member needs to be working at minimum 20 hours per week or in a combination of training and a job.
  • Age limits are in place. Most children can only receive assistance until they reach age 13. Exceptions are made for the disabled, who can qualify up to age 18.
  • Ohio will only help pay for child care during the time that the parent(s) are at work, in school, or enrolled in job training.
  • Teenage parents must attend an education program.

A huge benefit is that the parent may choose the day care or child care provider of their choice, provided that they have been both approved and are licensed by the state and your county. You can select a group day care home, a small family operation, a standard/approved child care center, or maybe even a relative or neighbor. You must select a licensed child care center, Head Start, school-age program, or even a home provider (relative or non relative). Always keep in mind that any in-home aide chosen needs to be approved and certified by the CDJFS in order to get help with your payments.

In almost all cases, the parent will still be responsible for paying a portion of the costs as Ohio will only provide a subsidy. This is known as a co-payment. The exact terms will depend on many factors including the family’s income.




Additional terms and conditions of the free day care programs in Ohio are as follows. Some of this also touches upon documentation that may be needed when you apply.

  • Some exceptions can be made from time to time. For example, the applicant can have a promise of a job that will start within 30 days of their application.
  • In addition to being a state of Ohio resident, the child who needs care must be an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residency or a citizen of the United States.
  • Residents may be eligible for financial if they receive cash from Ohio Works First (OWF)
  • You will need to have proof of identification for each caretaker or parent living in the home.

If after this entire process, if you meet the guidelines of the program, the state will provide assistance with a portion of your child care cost, so this is the subsidy component. Co-payments will be needed from the parent though, and the amount will vary. As with almost every free government benefit program, resources are limited. If funding is not available at the time of application, then a waiting list can be used.

If the amount of your child care subsidy from the state does not pay the entire bill, then the provider may ask you to pay the difference between their private charges and the subsidy payment. So this is another fee that could be due from the enrollee. A provider needs to be approved and/or certified by the state and CDJFS. This includes any relatives or neighbors. The CDJFS has a formal application process in place in order to be approved.

Ohio Job and Family Services will also help people find a provider. The state, and many counties, maintain a database of information on local child care facilities and other community resources. These different tools can help parents find an appropriate arrangement for their child, including such services as after school,  overnight, full or part time, or even summer camp.







Applying for low cost or free daycare in Ohio

All information will be unbiased. Specialists will assist applicants in making informed child care choices, and all of this is offered at no charge to residents. They will only use approved and quality providers too. To learn more or apply for help, call your local Ohio Department of Job and Family Services office.


By Jon McNamara


















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