Financial assistance, referral options available to help families with child care

INDIANAPOLIS – Finding quality child care can be stressful for parents and take a toll on a family's budget. That's why there are programs available to help parents along the way.

FOX59 looked into child care services following the arrest of a Muncie woman who was charged with neglect of a dependent. It happened this week after police found her two children home alone. The child was four and the other was seven.

According to police documents, the mother said she could not find a sitter and had to go to work. She added she had left the children home alone before but does it rarely.

In Indiana, there is no state law on how young a child can be before staying home without adult supervision. This time of year, parents can be left in situations with difficult choices to make.

"The school break and children become ill," said Prevent Child Abuse Indiana's director of programs, Sandy Runkle-DeLorme. "There are lots and lots of families now working holidays. They don’t get the time off."

Runkle-DeLorme said some families may be comfortable allowing a teenager to stay home, but a teen with a different family may feel completely different.

"Ask the child if they're ready," Runkle-DeLorme said. "If they say no or are hesitant, it may not be the time. Do an honest assessment."

Families with younger children and children who aren't ready to stay home without supervision can search for child care in a couple places.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) runs a website to help find child care providers based off the age or ages of your family. It also provides information on the Child Care Development Fund, which can make child care more affordable for those who qualify.

Click here for more on the FSSA program, INconnect.

Another option is Early Learning Indiana's Child Care Answers program.

"If parents are needing financial assistance or if they don’t need financial assistance and just need referral services, we can give them access to that information," said Early Learning Indiana's vice president of statewide support, Crystal Givens.

Givens said Child Care Answers can find child care providers for parents who need it long term or short term and point parents to the right resources for getting financial help.

According to a study conducted earlier this year by Indiana University's Public Policy Institute and funded by Early Learning Indiana, on average, Indiana working parents with children under the age of five are absent from work 13.3 day each year due to child care issues.

The study also found that about 11,000 working parents quit their jobs to address child care needs.