When do I need a Small Group and School-Age Child Care license?

You need a Small Group and School Age Child Care License if you would like to care for ten or fewer unrelated children on a regular basis in a center or building that is not your home. (If you wish to do so in your home, please see the requirements for Family Child Care Programs.) Small Group and School Age Child Care is a new category of care that was added with the promulgation of our latest child care regulations in 2010. Small Group and School Age programs could operate like a preschool program, before and/or after school program or family child care program as the requirements allow for a multi-age group of children.

What if I am exempt from licensing?

In Massachusetts, a license is required to provide most child care services. In some circumstances, the caring arrangement may be exempt from licensure and may not require a license. If you believe your child care program is exempt from licensure, the Application for Child Care Licensing Exemption pdf format of    Application for Child Care Licensing Exemption  must be completed and submitted to your Regional Office for approval. You are not exempt from licensing unless approval has been granted from EEC.

Licensing Requirements for Small Group and School Age Child Care

As of January 2010, regulations include the following requirements:

  • Evidence of a well balanced curriculum of specific, planned learning experiences that support the social, emotional, physical, intellectual and language development of all children.
  • Evidence of a plan describing how program activities support and engage children through specific learning experiences. The plan must be appropriate to the ages and development of the children served, to the length of the program day and to the program objectives.
  • Educators must be responsive to children's individual needs and support the development of self-esteem, self-expression, autonomy, social competence and school readiness.
  • The program must support and encourage a partnership with and the involvement of parents in the early education and care of their children.
  • All staff must have a criminal background check, (CORI, Criminal Offender Record Information), as well as a background check through the MA Department of Children and Families, (DCF), to determine if they have been identified by DCF in a supported 51B report as the person responsible for the abuse or neglect of a child.
  • The program must be safe, clean, comfortable, of adequate size, free from hazards, and has passed all local building, health, and lead paint inspections as applicable.
  • Evidence that all staff are qualified for their positions and that staff are appropriately supervised.
  • Evidence that EEC required staff to child ratios are always maintained.
  • Evidence that staff appropriately supervises all children to ensure their health, safety, education, growth and development.
  • Educators must provide guidance to children in a positive and consistent way based on an understanding of the individual needs and development of children.
  • Educators must direct child guidance to the goal of maximizing the growth and development of children and protecting the group and the individuals within it.
  • The ability to provide for the physical and emotional needs of children, including personal hygiene, emergency preparedness, toileting, diapering, sleep/rest time, and feeding.
  • Written records about children that include attendance, medical information, progress while in care, referral information, and all required parental consents and contact information.

How do I Apply for a License for Small Group and School Age Child Care?

When calling your EEC Regional Office, let the front desk know you are interested in becoming a small group and school age child care provider. You will be invited to attend a Potential Provider Meeting. These meetings are scheduled on a regular basis at your EEC Regional Office and led by a Group and School Age Child Care Licensor who will give you all the information you will need to become a licensed provider. The content of the meeting also addresses Large Group and School Age Child Care. At this meeting, you will receive the application materials and be informed which licensor has been assigned to assist you in the application and licensing process.

It is important to review your individual plans with your licensor to obtain technical assistance with the licensing process.

While waiting for the Potential Provider meeting, there are several things you can do to begin the process of becoming a licensed provider:

  • Contact your local Building Inspector to schedule a building safety inspection.
  • If your proposed building was constructed prior to 1978, contact a registered/licensed lead paint inspector for lead paint testing.
  • If applicable submit your qualifications and those of any staff you have identified to the EEC Professional Qualifications Unit for review.

Once you have returned your completed application with the appropriate application fee, your assigned licensor will contact you to review your application and to schedule a visit to your program.


Information provided by the Department of Early Education and Care. Updated: June 27, 2011