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Need Help Paying for Child Care?



Working Connections Child Care (DSHS)

Many families need help paying for child care. Working Connections Child Care subsidies (through the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services/DSHS) may be able to help. Please note that as of Aug. 1, 2016, families who use Working Connections Child Care subsidies for children age 5 or below must enroll in child care programs that are participating in Early Achievers, Washington’s framework for improving the quality of child care statewide. To find out if a provider you are considering is an Early Achievers provider, look for the Early Achievers logo EA Sun in the online listing, or ask your representative when you call. For more information, click here. To learn more about Working Connections at DSHS, click here.

Special Needs rate through DSHS

Families that qualify for assistance through the Working Connections Child Care or Seasonal Child Care programs and have a child with special needs may be eligible to apply for a special needs rate to help pay for care. Families can call DSHS customer service at 1-877-501-2233. Child care providers can call the provider line at 1-800-394-4571. Or click here to learn more.

ECEAP and Head Start Preschool Programs

Children in low-income households may qualify for Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) or Head Start preschools. For more information about both programs and to see whether your family is eligible, visit the Washington State Department of Early Learning's website.

Help for Families Experiencing Homelessness

If your family is experiencing homelessness, click here for help in finding child care at no cost.


City of Seattle Child Care Subsidy

Low- to moderate-income families in the City of Seattle can qualify for child care assistance through Seattle's Human Services Department. To find out if you are eligible, call 206-386-1050.

For Full-Time College Students in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties

The Seattle Milk Fund provides child care grants to full-time college students working toward a degree at one of several local colleges. Click here for full details and eligibility requirements.

Kent, Redmond, and Bellevue Child Care Subsidies

Low-to moderate income families in Kent, Redmond and Bellevue may be eliglible for child care assistance through Child Care Resources. See the guidelines at Child Care Resources here or call 206-329-1011 ext. 268. An application can be found here.

Average cost of care in your area

You can get an idea of the average costs of child care centers and family child care homes in your region by clicking here.



Child Care Aware of America helps to administer programs that help military families pay for child care. Visit their website here.

Other ways to help save

Federal Tax Credit

The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit is worth up to 35 percent of the qualifying costs for care, depending on your income. The limit is $3,000 of your total cost for the care of one qualifying child. If you pay for the care of two or more qualifying children, you can claim up to $6,000 of your costs. More information can be found here.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)

Some employers offer Flexible Spending Accounts for their employees. The FSA allows you to put aside up to $5,000 before taxes to pay for dependent care expenses. Your paycheck will be deducted the amount you want to pay for care, and reimbursed to you for qualifying child care expenses. Because it comes out of your paycheck "pre-taxed" you do not have to pay federal, social security, or Medicare on this amount. Learn more here.


Some families may qualify for assistance other than child care. Click here to learn about some of your options.

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