Finding affordable and quality child care in the Pittsburgh area can be challenging for many students. CCAC is here to help. Choosing a child care program is an important and often difficult decision. This section will give you some information and resources to guide your decision making.
As you start exploring centers, make time to visit several programs. Spend time watching what happens in the program and ask lots of questions. Once you have visited and talked to the owner or director and the other adults who will be caring for and teaching your child, compare what you have seen and heard at each program to pick the best one for your family.
- The checklists at ChildCare.Gov provides a valuable tool and question guide to help you as you start visiting centers.
- How to Find Quality Childcare Fact Sheet provides a quick guide for families in Allegheny County to help you find, choose,
and pay for high-quality child care put together by Start Strong PA. Start Strong PA is an initiative of Early Learning PA. Through a statewide collaboration of partners,
Start Strong PA aims to support healthy child development, working families, and the
economy by increasing access to and affordability of high-quality child care programs
for young children.
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Child Care Search
There are many child care options in the Pittsburgh Area. Not sure where to start? Try some of these child care databases that can help you find a center that meets your needs.
- Child Care Provider Online Search – COMPASS: Search by: location; child’s age; program type; setting type (school based, child
care center, home-based); hours or schedule available; quality by STAR rating or accreditation;
and apply for the Child Care Works subsidized child care program.
- Pennsylvania’s Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRCS): ELRCs provide a single point-of-contact for families to help families find childcare that meets their needs.
Non Traditional & Emergency Child Care Options
Pittsburgh offers a number of Child Care services to assist parents during non-traditional hours, emergency situations and when school is not in session.
Angels’ Place provides single parents who are low-income, full-time students with early education and daycare help needed to complete their education.
Provides emergency child care services for children ages 0-6 for a few hours or days based on the needs of each individual family. All services provided by Jeremiah's Place are free, available for 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, and most importantly, judgement free.
Emergency childcare needs can include: Hospitalization • Funeral • Homelessness • Domestic violence • Military deployment • Job interview • Unsafe child care • Emergency respite
The Children's Center of Pittsburgh offers a Get-Well Room for sick kids. It provides a warm, caring place for children ages 6 months through 12 years who have: Colds, Mild fevers, Occasional vomiting, Diarrhea, Pain and fever from shots. Designed by UPMC infectious disease experts, a registered nurse manages the Get-Well Room program.
The YMCA has always focused on meeting the social, emotional and academic needs of our young learners so they can grow into the change makers of tomorrow—and today is no different.
Paying for Child Care & Subsidized Options
Learn more about qualifying for child care subsidy and supplemental payment programs for families. The subsidized child care program helps low-income families pay their child care fees. The state and federal governments fund this program, which is managed by the Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) office located in your county. Eligibility is determined if households meet certain criteria, mainly household income. If your family is at or slightly above the poverty guidelines, you may qualify. Poverty guidelines are dollar amounts set by the U.S. government to indicate the least amount of income a person or family needs to meet their basic needs. * see Federal Poverty Level Chart below
The Early Resource Learning Center (ELRC) indicates: “that the average annual cost of high-quality child care exceeds that of state college.” Many families in our community are eligible for a child care subsidy or a reduced child care rate. By enrolling in a child care subsidy you can receive assistance to enroll your children, who are then able to attend a high-quality early learning center.
Do you qualify for state and federal-funded programs? Learn more about qualifying for subsidy and supplemental payment programs available for families below.
The state and federal governments fund this program. The subsidized child care program helps families whose household income is no more than 200% of the Federal Poverty Income Guideline.
How it works: Children ages birth to 12 receive a voucher to attend a child care program based on family or household’s school or work schedule. A small co-pay is always required from the family, this is called the family co-pay. The ELRC will pay a part of your child care cost as well. This is called a subsidy payment.
Early Head Start is a primarily federally-funded program. Children living in families earning up to 100% of the federal poverty level are eligible to apply.
How it works: Early Head Start serves pregnant women and families with children from birth to age 3. It operates like preschool Head Start, following a set of federal Performance Standards that assure every child receives high quality services that help them grow physically, academically and socially and families obtain needed services to help them become self-sufficient. The program may be offered as center-based or home-based services and is free to those who are eligible.
Head Start is a primarily federally-funded program. Children living in families earning up to 100% of the federal poverty level are eligible to apply.
How it works: Head Start provides education, health and social services to families with children aged 3, 4 and 5. Head Start programs help children develop academic and social skills that prepare them for school and life. While enrolled in a high quality Head Start preschool program, children receive nutrition, health and supports that help them grow mentally, physically and socially. Families are also offered support to help them obtain services for a variety of needs such as employment or housing. The preschool Head Start program is free to those who are eligible.
Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts is primarily a state funded program. Children living in families earning up to 300% of the federal poverty level are eligible to apply.
How it works: It provides quality half-day and full-day pre-kindergarten to at-risk three- and four-year olds at no cost to families. Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts is offered in school districts, Keystone STARS 3 and 4 child care programs, Head Start programs, and licensed nursery schools.
The poverty guidelines are issued each year in the Federal Register by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Eligibility for subsidized child care is often determined by household income based on percentage of the federal poverty level. The chart below shows the percentages for the Federal Poverty Guidelines for the 48 contiguous states and District of Columbia.
|Each additional family member||$4,540||$6,810||$9,080||$13,620|
To learn more and find out if you qualify, contact your local Early Learning Resource Center:
Even if you do not qualify based on the Federal Poverty Guide, many programs offer their own independent scholarships or tuition assistance programs. Ask each program you are considering about financial assistance.
Other Helpful Resources
Alliance For Infants and Toddlers Early Intervention Service Coordination Agency for children with developmental concerns.
Child Care Expense Assistance PA 211 service programs and agencies that offer child care assistance.
Child Care Health Form Childcare programs may require this health form to be completed by your child’s doctor before entering childcare.
Family Centers of Allegheny County Strong families are the cornerstone of strong communities. At the Family Centers of Allegheny County, parents meet other parents, kids learn and play and families get the support and resources they need.
Travelers Aid: Mobile Moms Program Designed to assist pregnant women with transportation to prenatal appointments and other related appointments. There is no residency (the program does utilize the Allegheny County Port Authority Transit system) or income requirement, and no charges or fees.