What Is a Childcare Assistance Program?

Assistance: “the provision of money, resources, or information to help someone.” We all need a little assistance from time to time, especially working families with profound childcare needs.

Money, resources, or information can each be invaluable for employees struggling to solve their day-to-day childcare challenges. A growing number of employers are realizing they need to offer childcare assistance to keep working parents happy and productive.

So, what are the basics? A childcare assistance program is a benefit offering with the ultimate goal of connecting working parents with quality childcare. Helping parents find reliable childcare providers for their families should be seamless — and benefit both employers and their employees.

Childcare assistance does not mean employers pay the cost of their teams’ childcare expenses. However, these programs can be offered in tandem with a plan that pays for care. There are full and partial-stipend programs for that purpose.

A childcare assistance program is an economical way to get started with childcare benefits, help working families with their basic needs, and boost the bottom line.

Reserve a few minutes on Upwards’ calendar to chat about childcare assistance or any other type of employee childcare benefit programs you may be interested in.

How does childcare assistance work?

In practice, childcare assistance can take different forms. In our case, Upwards’ Childcare Assistance program consists of dedicated childcare experts (available around-the-clock) to source the best local options for care from our vast network of qualified caregivers. In our experience, families need help with:

  • Setting up tours and interviews: Parents searching for childcare on their own spend a frustrating amount of time on the vetting stage of the process. Being able to rely on a trusted source goes a long way to help working parents secure childcare.
  • Enrollment/Getting started at care: Once families find the right childcare provider, there is still much to do before and after a child’s first day of care. Coordinating various paperwork can be a headache parents don’t have time for. A childcare assistance program sets them up for a successful transition with their new caregiver.
  • Support during their care: After a family starts with their childcare provider, they often still need ongoing support from our expert team. Whether it’s resolving a billing issue, answering questions that crop up on any given day, or reaching out to a caregiver, childcare assistance can help ensure families have the best possible experience throughout.

These are all time-consuming, tedious tasks that busy working parents struggle with during their childcare search experience. Families appreciate knowing that an expert is there to support them throughout their childcare journey.

Why is childcare support for employees needed?

As American society has witnessed in recent years, having reliable childcare is crucial for workers, their employers, and the economy as a whole.

Working parents miss out on an estimated $37 billion a year in lost income due to insufficient childcare. Meanwhile, organizations lose over $13 billion a year in lost productivity because of decreased employee output, hiring expenses, and work interruptions.

Closing schools and childcare providers during the height of the pandemic caused an estimated $700 billion hit to the economy in lost productivity and revenue. That amounted to 3.5 percent of the national gross domestic product (GDP).

Severe lack of childcare has been a contributing factor in The Great Resignation. Without childcare, employees are more distracted, less productive, and more likely to leave their jobs. A childcare assistance program addresses these issues for working parents while solving the resulting challenges for organizations: employee absenteeism, retention, and competitive recruitment.

With suitable childcare in place, parents can stay in the workforce, remain longer at their organization, or return to work if they left to care for their children. Employers offering childcare assistance enjoy positive productivity gains among their teams who no longer have to manage routine childcare concerns throughout the workweek.

Childcare assistance is an employer-sponsored childcare benefits option that supports working parents by connecting them to quality, affordable caregivers.

All paths lead to childcare assistance

Employers considering childcare benefits may be focused on the stark bottom line for their business or genuinely interested in supporting their working families, or both.

Either way, a childcare assistance program is a logical solution to issues such as burnout and resignations that so many employers are tackling.

Childcare benefit programs vary and should be tailored to each employer to maximize their impact and efficacy. Childcare assistance programs are the foundation of many employer-sponsored childcare benefits, serving as the true starting point when it comes to supporting working parents.

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

Upwards’ network and childcare benefit programs

Upwards is the largest childcare network in the U.S. and a leading provider of childcare benefits for employees.

Our childcare network consists of over 60,000 small childcare providers. These qualified, vetted caregivers offer affordable, high-quality childcare with small class sizes, flexible schedules, and the ability to care for school-aged children.

Our employee childcare benefits programs are extensive yet affordable, for both employees and their employers. Upwards works with organizations of all sizes to offer childcare assistance and customized childcare benefits plans to their employees.

No matter how you define it, childcare assistance can help a lot of employees as well as the companies they work for.

Employers ready to begin the childcare benefits conversation can reach us any time at benefits@upwards.com.

Read more about the top childcare benefits myths.


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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