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Preparing yourself financially for your child's early learning costs

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With education and childcare becoming increasingly necessary, the cost of early learning programs has also been on the rise. This can be attributed to the rising costs of goods and services over time, as well as population pressure in urban areas.

Some early learning programs now cost almost as much as baby boomers paid for a year of college back in the day. These rising costs have exerted pressure on most families, especially those that have multiple young children.

Understanding the costs

The perception that early learning centres are simply places where children play with toys and crayons has become outdated. Indeed, early learning now involves the use of technology by children, frequent trips outside school, and the use of more facilities on the part of the early learning centre. And because early learning has been shown to play a significant part in a child's overall development, it's important for parents to accommodate these costs.

The rising cost of early learning makes it necessary for more parents to prepare themselves financially for preschool and childcare. To meet these costs, there are several options for parents to consider.

Government assistance programs

There are several programs that are funded by the government to facilitate children's access to early childhood education. Some of these programs include:

1. The Child Care benefit

The Child Care Benefit (CCB) is a program that assists parents/guardians in meeting the cost of eligible child care programs. Some programs that are covered include early learning centres, day care and in-home care.

Eligibility will depend on your income, the number of children you have and the type of care that your child is receiving.

2. Child Care Rebate

If you're currently receiving the Child Care Benefit and you still end up incurring out of pocket expenses, you can receive a child care rebate of up to half of these expenses (within an upper annual limit).

This rebate helps you recover additional costs that you had to incur (beyond the CCB) when funding your child's early learning expenses.

3. JET

JET (Jobs, Education and Training) Child Care Assistance is another government program that makes payments to the care provider or educational institution on your behalf. It is designed for parents who are regularly receiving some sort of income assistance for other needs within the home (such as child support payments, widow pensions and youth allowances).

Personal Saving plans

It is also a good idea to prepare personal funds when saving for early education. You can work with your bank, insurance company, or other financial institution to open an educational savings account, trust fund or prepaid tuition plans. These options can help to cushion early educational expenses.