Financial Assistance for Families
The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) provides financial assistance to eligible families seeking care at early education and care or out of school time programs. Families must generally meet income and activity requirements to be eligible for EEC financial assistance. Due to limited funding, eligible families may be placed on the EEC waiting list for financial assistance until funding becomes available.
Am I eligible to receive EEC financial assistance for child care?
In order to be eligible for EEC Financial Assistance, all parents/guardians in your household must meet both an income and an activity requirement.
1. Income Requirement
To see if your income meets the criteria for assistance use the SMI Income Eligibility FY2016 The gross household income must be at or below 50% of the State Median Income (SMI) at initial assessment and may not exceed 85% of the SMI at reassessment.
2. Activity Requirement
If you meet the income requirement above, all parents/guardians in the household must also be participating in one of the following activities:
- Working, seeking employment, or enrolled in an education or training program (not including graduate, law, or medical school) for at least 20 hours per week for part-time care, and at least 30 hours per week for full-time care;
- Retired (if older than 65 years only); or
- You or your child has a diagnosed and documented disability or special need.
How do I apply?
Interested families should contact their local Child Care Resource and Referral agency for financial assistance inquiries and access to the waiting list. Please click here for a complete listing of which CCR&R serves your city/town .
The Massachusetts 2-1-1 system is an additional resource of information for families looking for child care.
What is the waitlist for child care financial assistance?
- EEC Waitlist for Child Care Financial Assistance Parent Information Sheet
- EEC Waitlist for Child Care Financial Assistance Parent Information Sheet - Chinese
- EEC Waitlist for Child Care Financial Assistance Parent Information Sheet - Haitian Creole
- EEC Waitlist for Child Care Financial Assistance Parent Information Sheet - Portuguese
- EEC Waitlist for Child Care Financial Assistance Parent Information Sheet - Spanish
EEC maintains a centralized statewide wait list for early education and child care financial assistance. Families may be added to the waitlist by a Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (CCR&R), a Contracted Child Care Provider or by calling Mass 211 (dial "2-1-1" from your phone). If you wish to place your name on EEC's waitlist, you will be asked for the following information:
- All household members, (i.e., parents/guardians and all dependent children);
- Service need (i.e., participation in an approved activity) for each parent/guardian such as employment, education or training, job search, or disability of parent; and
- Total gross household income including both earned and unearned income, such as wages, SSI, child support (monetary and in-kind), rental income, TAFDC, etc.
You should report any changes in the above information to your waitlist agent or request removal if you no longer need child care financial assistance. You may also update your waitlist record, view your status and see your notification history by using EEC's Self Service Application Tool.
While on the waitlist, you will receive various communications from EEC, including:
- Confirmation Letter - this letter will confirm the date your name was placed on the waitlist (application date), how many of your children are placed on the waitlist, and also provide you with a Household ID. Your Household ID should be used when referring to your waitlist application.
- Renewal Letter - you will receive this letter if you have not updated your waitlist record in the previous 12 months.
- Removal Letter - you will receive this letter if you request to be removed from the waitlist, if you have been deemed ineligible for child care financial assistance, or you refuse three funding offers.
If you fail to respond to any waitlist letter, your family will be removed from the waitlist. If you contact a waitlist agent within 30 days of removal, your name may be placed back on the waitlist with your original application date. If you contact a waitlist agent after 30 days of removal, you will be placed back on the waitlist with a new application date, reflecting the date of your reinstatement.
When funding does become available, you will receive a Funding Availability letter for either an income eligible contracted slot or a voucher:
- Income Eligible Contracted Slot: a subsidized slot available through a specific early education and care program.
- Voucher: a subsidy available through your local CCR&R that can be used at any early education and care program that holds an agreement with the CCR&R to accept state subsidy payments.
Funding Availability Letters are issued on a first come, first served basis according to waitlist application dates. Please understand that it is very difficult to determine when child care financial assistance may become available. Be advised that EEC only pays a portion of the daily child care cost and that you may be assigned a co-payment (parent fee) based on your total household income.
What should I do if my information changes?
Contact your Local CCRRA, MASS 211 or the program that placed you on the wait list to tell them your new address, income, family size, or name. You can also use the self-service application to update your information at anytime. Ask your Wait list Agent for your User Name and Password. Click here for the self service application.
What happens when financial assistance is available?
You will get a letter from a Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (CCR&R), EEC contracted provider, or Head Start Program when EEC financial assistance becomes available. You must call within 15 days to schedule an appointment or let them know if you are not interested.
It is important to call quickly, as the space may be filled by another child on the wait list. Be sure to tell them if you have another child that needs care, as they may also be eligible for financial assistance at that time.
This video from the CCR&R network provides a brief overview of their services, financial assistance eligibility appointments, tips for selecting an early education and care provider, and how to access a telephone interpreter if needed.
Will I have to pay for my child care?
In general, most families pay a co-payment based on a sliding fee scale according to their income and family size.
EEC Financial Assistance Parent Co-Payment Chart
The Parent Co-Payment Schedule is used to determine the parent's co-payment once the family is determined to be eligible and is being enrolled in an early education and care program.
Find out about this nationally funded program that promotes school readiness through quality early educational experiences and services.