Child Care Costs

Most child care programs charge a fee. Rates vary by type of child care, age of child, hours in care, and individual program.

The NYS Office of Children and Family Services Market Rates come from a survey that is completed every 2 years. Child care programs in a group of counties are surveyed, and the 69th percentile of all reported rates is set as the market rate. This rate is the maximum amount the Department of Social Services can pay for child care.

Cortland County Market Rate effective May 1, 2019

Tompkins County Market Rate effective May 1, 2019

Financial Assistance for Child Care

CARES Scholarship for Essential Workers – If you are an income eligible* essential worker and must work outside your home, you may be eligible for the CARES Child Care Scholarship. 

This allocation of funding for child care for essential workers comes to the state from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”).

Income eligible* essential workers using a regulated child care provider will receive a scholarship for the cost of care as long as the funds to support it are available.  All OCFS regulated providers who are providing child care for essential workers are eligible to participate in this new program. We can connect you to a program if you need a referral, or you can use the CARES Scholarship to pay the regulated provider you are already using. 

To APPLY: Fill out the Parent Survey, then will be in touch.

Child Development Council Emergency Scholarship – Emergency child care assistance is available (once a year) from the Council’s emergency scholarship fund. When a family crisis affects your ability to keep child care payments current, you may be eligible for a scholarship. A committee considers applications monthly. Awards are paid directly to programs. For more information or to see if you qualify, contact the Child Development Council at (607) 273-0259.
COVID-19 guidelines: The Child Development Council has expanded the normal eligibility criteria for Emergency Scholarship. Families may be eligible for up to $200 per week for a maximum of 4 weeks for future child care needs, not only a back child care bill. If you are an essential personnel paying 2 child care bills because your usual program is closed or you have extended hours, Emergency Scholarship can help. 

Child Care Subsidy – A child care subsidy may be available from the local Department of Social Services (DSS) to assist income-eligible parents who are working or enrolled in approved schooling. Call the Day Care Unit, Tompkins County DSS at (607) 274-5219, Cortland County DSS at (607)753-5230 to learn if you qualify. According to a formula, DSS pays a portion of the child care cost, and the family also pays a fee, which varies according to your income.

Sliding Fee Scales – Some child care centers and school-aged child care programs set their rates based on the philosophy that all children, regardless of parents’ financial resources, should have the same quality of care. These programs charge rates based on parents’ income. Contact each program directly for more information.

Free or reduced cost programs – There are free and reduced cost programs available through Head Start and Univeral Pre-K. Contact the Child Development Council for more information about these programs and other options.

Internal scholarships – Contact programs you are considering for information on availability of privately funded financial assistance.

Employer benefits – Your employer may offer a benefit to help with child care costs. Inquire at the Human Resources Department where you work.

Tax Credits for Families With Children

Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit – These federal and New York State credits are available for parents who use child care for children under age 13 while they work, look for work, or go to school. The federal credit can be worth up to 35% of child care expenses in 2015. Learn more about the federal credit in IRS Publication 503 or by calling the IRS Helpline at 1-800-829-1040. Learn more about the state credit, worth up to 100% of the federal amount, at the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance website or by calling the Tax Information Center at 1-800-225-5829.

Earned Income Tax Credit – These federal and New York State credits are available for working people with low to moderate incomes. Learn more about the federal credit, worth up to $6,242 for 2015, at the IRS website or by calling the IRS Helpline at 1-800-829-1040. Learn more about the state credit, worth up to 30% of the federal amount, at the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance website or by calling the Tax Information Center at 1-800-225-5829.

Federal Child Tax Credit and Empire State Child Credit – Available for parents raising children under age 17. Learn more about the federal credit, worth up to $1,000 per qualifying child for 2015, at the IRS website or by calling the IRS Helpline at 1-800-829-1040. Learn more about the state credit at the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance website or by calling the Tax Information Center at 1-800-225-5829.