Some childcare benefits are expensive, however, the right employee childcare benefit program can be economical while bringing value to the employer offering it.

Are Childcare Benefit Programs Expensive?

What is childcare really worth? The answer for many is that it’s priceless.

Employers considering expanding existing care benefits need to gather as much information as possible to make significant decisions that affect their financial outlook as well as the actual people that make up the organization.

We’re going to tackle an overarching question that our Upwards team gets asked all the time: Are employee childcare benefit programs expensive?

The answer is somewhat complicated. The difficult truth is that most childcare benefit programs are expensive and ineffective. However, they don’t have to be this way! If you choose the right program to implement, you’ll find significant ROI as you support working families and address organizational challenges like employee productivity, absenteeism, retention, and hiring.

Reserve some time to speak with our Upwards team about employer-sponsored childcare benefits.

Adding affordable employee childcare benefits is possible with the right childcare network — it’s also needed to improve retention, absenteeism, and hiring.

As they review the options available, employers typically have a few questions about employee childcare benefit programs to determine the best fit for their workforce. The top three questions are:

  1. Are employee childcare benefits attainable? Traditionally, employee childcare benefits can be quite expensive and, therefore, unattainable for many employers. Fortunately, there are now more affordable employer-sponsored childcare benefits available. These economical childcare benefit programs are within reach of organizations from every industry across the country.
  2. What types of employee childcare benefit programs are available? Employer childcare benefits include childcare assistance programs to help working parents find and access quality, affordable childcare for their families. Childcare stipends are an option employers can offer to assist employees with childcare costs. And backup care programs are an important way to support working families with a care plan when there is an emergency or last-minute childcare is needed.
  3. Which type of childcare providers can employees choose? Depending on the childcare network and employee childcare benefits program selected, working families can find caregivers ranging from daycare providers and nannies to babysitters and tutors. Some childcare networks include home daycare providers, who are licensed to provide childcare from their home and offer smaller class sizes with more flexible schedules. Home daycare providers, nannies, and babysitters can provide after-school care as well.

Flexible childcare benefits for employees

If you’re interested in getting the most for your money and providing the best value to your workforce, find a flexible childcare-as-a-benefit program. This is important so that both you and your employees pay only for the childcare that is needed and ultimately used.

  • Childcare-as-a-benefit is a term used to describe when employers offer care benefits to employees that include childcare. Similar to health, dental, and 401k benefits, a childcare-as-a-benefit program provides employees with the choice to opt-in to take advantage of the specific benefits the employer is offering to their workforce.

In addition to selecting the right, flexible program, make sure to take advantage of substantial tax credits available to employers offering childcare benefits to their employees. We discussed tax credits in a previous post, and it’s worth reiterating that businesses can receive up to $150,000 in federal tax credits.

Our team at Upwards can help you understand which tax credits you would be eligible for to see how much money you could save by implementing a childcare-as-a-benefit program.

Finding affordable childcare

As you survey the wide array of options for a benefit to support your working families with childcare, make sure to choose one that actually services those families. After all, that’s the whole point, right?

The reality is that most forms of childcare are already unaffordable for many families. This is why the employee childcare benefits program you’re providing is so crucial.

Unfortunately, even with the best intentions and right idea, many employers are opting for the wrong programs. An example of this is a program in which the childcare costs run in the thousands of dollars per month range for employees. In a case like this, you would be basically paying money to give your working parents access to a program they still can’t afford.

To successfully avoid this scenario, you’ll need to find an affordable childcare network that includes flexible care options. This will allow you to pass those savings down to your employees, who only pay for the childcare they need and actually use.

At Upwards, our business model is geared toward enabling employers to afford flexible, high-quality childcare programs that their employees find useful, accessible, and truly affordable for their family budgets.

  • We own both sides of the childcare marketplace, with years of extensive knowledge and data about both the parent and provider experience.
  • We have dedicated care managers to assist working families with their unique childcare needs.
  • We’re a tech-forward company focused on home daycares, babysitters, and nannies rather than large, on-site daycare centers.
  • Because of these factors, Upwards is more affordable than our main competitors.
  • Whereas some of our competitors charge millions of dollars to open and manage a childcare facility — or offer memberships for $16 per person per year — Upwards can provide employee childcare benefits for around $0.78 per employee per month, a sizable difference in budget commitment for employers.
  • Backup care credits cost $300 - $400 each with our competitors, while Upwards’ backup care credits cost significantly less and represent a much more cost-effective way to support your workforce with the important backup care they need.

Employer-sponsored childcare benefits like childcare assistance and backup care are practical options to support working families while boosting productivity.

How to select the right childcare network

When thinking about your options for employee childcare benefits, choosing a childcare network for your organization is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make. Every childcare network looks to offer comparable services, however, costs and coverage can differ significantly based on who you choose to work with.

An important step in the process is gaining a better understanding of the particular needs your working families have for childcare. This information can be gleaned internally with an employee survey or from a third party employer childcare benefits provider as part of their workforce analysis. However you gather it, this information will help inform the choice of which childcare network is the right fit for your organization.

Want to learn about Upwards' Childcare Benefits?
Childcare AssistanceBackup CareChildcare Stipends
Dedicated care manager to provide 24/7 concierge supportEmergency childcare when regular care falls throughOffset the cost of childcare-related expenses for employees

Maximizing childcare benefits ROI

As previously mentioned, implementing employer-sponsored childcare benefits can bring you serious ROI. How much? With the right program, you could see a 400% return on your investment within the first year, full stop. And surprisingly, it can be as inexpensive as only a few dollars per employee per year.

  • To find out just how much you can save by adding an employee childcare benefits program, try using Upwards’ ROI Calculator for a custom ROI analysis. We developed our ROI calculator with employers in mind to help provide data for these important organizational decisions.

Upwards’ affordable childcare benefits for employees

Upwards, as the largest childcare network in the U.S. and a leading provider of employee childcare benefit programs, can help you support your working parents while improving your bottom line. Our childcare network of over 6,000 licensed in-home daycare providers and 50,000+ nannies and babysitters delivers affordable, high-quality childcare that works for both employees and employers.

We have many employers using Upwards that are saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, thanks to their employee childcare benefits program. Suppose you’re interested in starting to compound value at your organization for your deserving workforce. In that case, we’re always here when you’re ready to explore your childcare benefit options so we can help you find the right fit.

We are available at to chat about your team’s childcare needs and you can also find more information about Upwards’ childcare benefit programs at

Read more about the pros and cons of on-site childcare centers.


The largest childcare network in the United States, providing access to quality, affordable childcare to families nationwide. We support childcare providers in operating sustainable businesses through a technology-based marketplace and partner with government entities to improve access to care. Upwards also helps employers of all sizes offer their employees childcare benefits. Our mission is to help all families care for their children — not just those who can afford it.

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