Paying for Child Care

Children who attend a quality child care / early learning program come to kindergarten ready to learn, do better in school, and are more likely to graduate high school, attend college, and get good jobs.

But paying for quality early learning programs can be costly for working parents, your Early Learning Resource Center is here to help.

The state and federal governments have made funding available to assist qualifying low income families pay for their child care fees through the subsidized child care program. Find out if you are eligible.

  • You must live in Pennsylvania
  • Have a child or children who need child care while you work or attend an education program
  • Meet income guidelines for your family size
  • Work 20 or more hours a week or
  • Work 10 hours a week and train 10 hours a week
  • Have a promise of a job that will start within 30 days of your application for subsidized child care
  • Teen parents must attend an education program
  • The child who needs care must be a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residency
  • Have proof of identification for each parent or caretaker in the home
  • Have proof that each person on your application is a member of your family

To view income guidelines click here.


*Foster Parents may not have to meet income requirements.

If you think you might be eligible for subsidized child care, there are three ways to apply:


Please call us at 1 888-461-KIDS (5437) and an ELRC Specialist will assist you.


To apply for subsidized child care on line, please visit the state’s online Compass website.


You may also print a subsidized child care application and mail or drop off to your closest ELRC office.  Simply click the button and print the form.  Ensure you complete and send all the information requested before mailing.  An ELRC representative will contact you upon receipt.

How do I find child care?

By calling our Hotline 1-888-461-KIDS (5437) or visiting an ELRC, ELRC specialists assist families in making informed choices.  The ELRC will talk to you about your child care needs and share information with you about high quality early learning programs.

You can also search on-line at

How do I pay for child care?

The ELRC through the Child Care Works subsidy program helps low-income families pay for their child care fees.  You must complete an application to find out if you are eligible for subsidized child care funding. The program pays a portion to the child care provider and the family pays a co-pay.  If you are not eligible for subsidized child care funding, you may be eligible for other early learning programs such as: PA Pre-K, Head Start, Early Head Start or PHL Pre-K. You can call or visit the closest ELRC or apply on line at

To learn more, contact us or call our Hotline 1 888 461-KIDS (5437)

Waiting List

Families qualifying under the low-income program are placed on a waitlist if funds are not immediately available.

Families experiencing Homelessness, Teen Parents (enrolled in a full time education program), Foster Parents, Newborn siblings of children already enrolled and children already enrolled and children already participating in PA Pre-K and Head Start who need extended services are excluded from the waitlist and placed under prioritized funding if funds are available.

Parent Choice

The subsidized child care program allows parents to choose any participating regulated child care program. If you choose a provider that is not currently participating in the subsidy program, the ELRC will contact that provider to arrange for them to sign up for the program. You can also have a relative of the child, who does not live with the child, care for the child while you are at work. You may also select a grandparent, great grandparent, aunt/uncle or sibling who is 18 years old. The Related Provider must pass background checks that will include criminal history and child abuse clearances along with FBI Fingerprinting. Please contact the ELRC for more information.

Parents or caretakers may choose a child care provider for his/her child that best meets their needs. However, the ELRC can only give unbiased referrals to child care providers, and cannot recommend, guarantee, nor is it responsible for, the quality of child care services delivered by the provider.


The income guidelines listed are not the final consideration for the subsidized child care program, as there are a number of factors that are taken into account when determining your eligibility.

If you believe that you may not be eligible for subsidized child care based on these income guidelines, you should still consider applying. You may be eligible after a final and accurate calculation of your gross income is conducted and any allowable deductions are considered. Contact us for more details.

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Monday – Friday 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.