CHARLESTON (WCBD) – When Ann Bell and her husband, both lawyers, were expecting their first child, they started saving and putting together a family budget.
“We wanted to have a plan,” said Bell, a resident of West Ashley. “We thought that daycare would probably be the right option for us. We thought that having somebody who actually came into our home every day might be too expensive.”
But after their son — Aidan — arrived, the plan changed.
“When he was born and my parents met him, they decided that he was much too precious to go to a daycare,” said Bell.
The couple realized they would need help to pay all of their expenses and looked to their parents for extra financing.
“We had to have a nanny for him. They are actually helping us and provide supplemental pay for a nanny, which has been a real blessing. We love our nanny and it’s real great and he loves her,” said Bell.
But not all families are able to afford this type of in-home care.
Child care is straining family budgets and depending on where you live, parents are finding it can cost about $4,000 to $15,000 a year.
If you think child care is an insurmountable hurdle for you as a single-parent or even a double-income household — start by looking into early childhood education programs like Head Start.
Other tips — make sure you get your child care tax credit.
“The tax code was designed to help families with young ones to have a tax benefit to have a cost to reduce the cost of daycare or have someone at home to take care of them,” said William Freeland, a CPA at Moody’s & O’Neal in Mount Pleasant.
Talking to parents, we learned care.com and urbansitter.com are two popular sites to find child care providers. Once you start looking — it is important to check and see if they meet state licensing requirements.
Organizations like the YMCA are available and there are community centers and churches that can be an affordable option for child care as well.
Of course, when working to nail down a child care provider, the number one concern is safety.
For Ann and her husband that meant one-on-one care.
“I watch him every day. I love watching him grow. I’m also really close with his family,” said Emilee Nzomo, the Bell’s nanny.
She said it also allows her to have more of a relationship with Aidan’s parents.
“In a group setting, I have to divide my attention among sometimes fourteen or more kids. But in a one-on-one, I really get to know child and the parent too,” said Nzomo. “In a daycare center you see the parent really for hi and goodbye.”