Little kids are ex-pen-sive! We are in the process of potty training our youngest and are looking forward to the day we can say bye-bye to diapers, wipes, pull ups, cups with lids…and, although I really cherish my kids at every age and stage (yep, they have a way of making me crazy- and some days I cherish this age less than others), I also dream of the day of not having to budget for expensive baby necessities and pay a large preschool bill.
If you are a foster or kinship parent, daycare and preschool are largely covered by the state through DES. Some preschools require a copay for the foster parents/kinship parent to pay if the school daily rate exceeds the DES daily reimbursement rate. The copay for parents can vary greatly depending on the school and, if you plan on using DES reimbursement, you may want to consider adding this question to your list when interviewing the preschool or childcare center. Once a child is adopted from foster care, the adoptive parents are responsible to pay for all daycare, preschool, and all other educational costs. Here are some questions to consider asking when interviewing a preschool for a child in foster care:
• What is your weekly copay (if any) above what DES covers?
• What experience does your staff have with at-risk children?
• Do you require trauma informed trainings for the teachers and staff?
• How do you handle behaviors in the classroom?
• Do you assign the children to a class and have the same teacher and/or adult helpers on a daily basis (kids do better with limited care givers especially if they come from a background of trauma)?
Even if your children are not in foster care, there are community resources available that, if you qualify, will help you with the cost of preschool.
First, you may qualify for DES child care outside of foster if you match one of the following:
• low-income families that are working
• teen parents enrolled in high school or GED classes
• homeless or domestic violence shelter residents
• individuals who are unable to work due to physical or emotional conditions
Applications are available at https://des.az.gov/services/basic-needs/child-care/apply-child-care-assistance
If you do not qualify for DES, you may qualify for other community resources to help with child care costs. You can check out information on Quality First and other scholarship opportunities here:
Having my kids in a positive school environment from an early age has impacted them in huge ways. I hope these resources and tips help you find what is best for your family to give your kids the best start to their education. Happy back to school days!
Founder/CEO Foster Arizona