Family and Child Care COVID-19 Resource Updates

Financial Assistance

In South Carolina, there are various kinds of resources available to families in need of financial assistance with child care. Each type of financial assistance listed below has different qualifications, like income level, employment status, or residency. You can visit Palmetto Pre-K to find out if you might qualify for one, all, some, or none.


SC Voucher – The SC Voucher Program is a Department of Social Services (DSS) funded program that makes payments to child care providers to care for children from low-income families so their parents can work. Those who are eligible for this state child care subsidy pay part of the cost and the rest is paid directly to your selected child care provider. 

Dual Language Learner Voucher- This voucher is also funded by the DSS, and is specifically for families that speak a language other than English in the home and have a child aged 0-12 years old. Parents are required to do one of the following to qualify: work a minimum of 15 hours per week, attend school (this includes ESL classes), or actively seek employment.

Homeless Initiative Child Care Voucher- To qualify for this DSS-funded voucher, a family must have a child aged 0-12 years old and currently be experiencing homelessness as defined by the McKinney Vento Act. This means a family will be considered as experiencing homelessness if, due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason, they are sharing housing (doubled-up) or residing in substandard housing, a shelter, an abandoned building, public spaces, a hotel or motel, a park, a trailer park, camp grounds, a bus or train station, or a car.

Head Start and Early Head Start – Head Start is a federally-funded program that provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition and parent-family-community engagement services to low-income children and their families. Head Start centers are operated by non-federal entities across the state. Many Head Start programs offer traditional school-day programs.If you would like to find out whether or not you are currently eligible for either of these programs, you can do so through Palmetto Pre-K.

First Steps Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) Programs – SC First Steps 4K is a state-funded program that provides free, educational Pre-K programs in hundreds of private, non-profit and faith-based childcare centers across South Carolina.If you would like to find out whether or not you are currently eligible for First Steps, you can do so through Palmetto Pre-K.

Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit – This tax credit helps families pay for child care for children under the age of 13 if the parents are working, or are looking for work. Parents who are full-time students can also claim the credit. Qualifying care includes child care centers, family child care homes, and care provided by paid friends or relatives, as long as the relative is not a dependent of the taxpayer. The size of the credit depends on the number of children in care, your family income, and the amount you paid for child care during the tax year. There are limits on the credit given for one child and two or more children. 

Employer Dependent Care Assistance Programs (DCAPs) – Your employer may offer a DCAP, which allows you to have money taken out of your paycheck tax-free and put into a special account to be used for child care tuition reimbursement. The main purpose of this type of program is to help you lower the amount of taxes you have to pay during the year.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)  – A refundable tax credit for low- and moderate-income families, particularly those with children, the EITC is based on family income and the number of children in the family. Both single- and two-parent families are entitled to the credit, as long as one parent is employed. 

South Carolina Tax Credits – A child and dependent care credit allows you to claim 7% of your allowable federal expenses for the care of a child or an elderly person, if that care is necessary for you to work. 

In-Home Care or Nanny Tax – When you hire an in-home caregiver, you become an employer under federal law. You need to be aware of laws regarding taxes, verification of employment eligibility, and minimum wage. For information on these topics, contact the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Services, an accountant, a tax advisor, or an insurance agent.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) – The VITA Program offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income (generally, $40,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns. Certified volunteers sponsored by various organizations receive training to help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the country. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations.