How Stretch Your Child Care Program Budget

September 2, 2022 | By Child Care Aware of Kansas

By Susan Pearson, Early Care and Education Specialist, Child Care Aware of Kansas.

Stretch Your Child Care Budget Temporarily

As a business owner, you rely on money to keep your expenses covered and your doors open. Ideally, you would always make a profit too. Like other businesses, your child care program may be impacted by economic factors outside your control, such as the rising cost of supplies and the loss of income when families leave and/or do not pay for services. When you need to stretch your budget temporarily, consider trying one or more of the following tips:

  1. Enlist help and donations from your enrolled families to have a garage sale.
  2. Prepare extra portions and freeze meals using child-approved recipes. Offer these frozen meals for sale to parents who would otherwise be paying for a fast-food meal.
  3. Have a limited snack bar for cash at pick-up time with car-friendly snacks such as fruit or small bags of trail mix.
  4. Offer a Parent’s Night Out and charge an hourly rate!
Stretch Your Child Care Budget Permanently

If you wish to strengthen your cashflow in a more permanent ongoing way, consider using these practices:

  1. Create a budget if you do not already have one. Review your budget regularly to catch gaps between income and money spent.
  2. Ensure your rates are up to date and in line with current rates in your area. (See Point in Time Data)
  3. Enroll in CACFP if you are not already participating. Yes, there is paperwork, but if you divide the reimbursement amount by the time spent on menus and attendance, you will find that the hourly pay is well over minimum wage! Also, you get free training hours.
  4. Work to remain fully enrolled! If a family struggles to keep up with their payments, work out a plan to catch up and hold them to that plan. Reduced income is better than no income.
  5. Charge past due payment fees. This is no different than late fees you would incur if you could not pay a bill.
  6. Charge for any care given outside the contracted hours, such as early drop-off or late pick-up.
  7. Accept credit card payments, even better if they are automatic withdrawals.
  8. Require enrollment fees and holding fees for spots opening in the future.
  9. Collect family’s co-pay from those families receiving subsidized care.
  10. For more individualized help, reach out to Links to Quality Community Consultant and schedule a meeting at a convenient time for you!

To learn more about utilizing best practices in your child care business, attend a workshop through Links to Quality. Sign up to get one-on-one support from a Child Care Aware of Kansas Community Consultant in your area. Take a business class through KCCTO.


Susan is one of ten Links to Quality Consultants currently working with directors and providers to strengthen business practices of their choice.  All are happy to meet one to one upon request.