Ouch! Since when did daycare become so darn expensive? According to a recent report published by Childcare Aware of America, it confirms the obvious; childcare for working parents is costly.

In 2011, the average annual daycare cost for an infant in a childcare center ranged from a low $4600 in Mississippi up to $15,000 in Massachusetts. Throughout more than 19 states, the average cost of infant daycare was estimated at over $10,000. If you’re wondering if it’s even possible to afford daycare in today’s economy, take heart. You can use these helpful tips to cut down on daycare expenses without sacrificing quality:

  1. Comparison shop between different providers to find the most affordable priced daycare facility in your neighborhood.
  2. Join a local babysitting co-op to swap childcare for free or at a discounted rate.
  3. Barter services for neighborhood babysitting, like accounting, web design, or lawn care.
  4. Ask family members to provide free childcare several days a week.
  5. Hire neighborhood children at a discounted price to serve as in-house mother’s helpers.
  6. Host an au pair with room and board as an inexpensive alternative to a nanny.
  7. Use a childcare tax credit that could cover up to 35% of expenses.
  8. Look into publicly funded preschools and pre-K programs.
  9. Work flexible hours to reduce full-time childcare needs.
  10. Consider working part-time from home as a telecommuter to cut childcare costs considerably.

Given the fact that daycare expenses are on the rise, parents throughout the US are racking their brains for creative ways to save on the cost of childcare at face value. On top of the helpful tips listed above, many employers today will now offer daycare reimbursement. As most companies are aware of the extraneous costs of daycare, it never hurts to communicate with your employer to ask if a childcare reimbursement percentage is available. Most families see the greatest success in arranging part-time childcare at no cost with another family member. If grandparents live close by and are retired, they may volunteer to watch children for free several days a week. The children can then be enrolled in a paid daycare facility for the remainder of the week to cut down on childcare expenses by hundreds of dollars a month. Finally, if you have several children, don’t forget to request a bundled rate for enrolling multiple kids in the same facility. Most daycare providers will be happy to offer discount services for more than one child, including in-home daycare centers.