There will be times when you decide to ask other people to take care of your child. When using childcare, it is important to think about both your child's needs and your own. Different types of childcare work best for different types of children and families. The three basic types of childcare are:
  • At-home childcare - a caregiver comes to your home to care for your child. This could be a friend, relative, nanny, or babysitter.
  • Family childcare - a licensed caregiver provides care for a group of children in her home. Care may be provided to children of all ages.
  • Center-based childcare - a licensed professional organization that provides care for children in a group setting. Care may be provided to children between the ages of 1 month to 16 years.

Your child cannot be denied childcare from any licensed childcare provider unless they don't have any openings. According to federal law, all childcare providers must accept an application from any interested family. Childcare providers must try to include any child in their program - regardless of the ability level or disabling condition of the child. To refuse or terminate services to a child with a disability, a childcare provider must present proof of financial or other hardship caused by caring for that child.

To learn more about licensed childcare in your community, contact the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care at 617-988-6600 or 617-988-2454 (TTY). Also, contact the Massachusetts Childcare Resource and Referral Network at 800-345-0131 or 617-491-1749 (TTY). These services help parents of children with disabilities to find childcare in their community and programs that help pay for childcare.

Check the Childcare Resource and Referral Network Section of the Family TIES Resource Directory for the names of other programs and services. For more information about at-home childcare, see Choosing a Sitter.

Tips on Getting Ready for Childcare

  • Talk to the staff to find out how your child's needs will be met. Start working with the staff 3-6 months before your child plans to start.
  • Work with the staff to set up your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) and an Individualized Health Care Plan (IFSP) for special services by age 3.

Tip: Many employers offer Flexible Spending Accounts for dependent care (such as childcare). It is a way to set aside pre-tax income for dependent care. Ask your employer about Flexible Spending Accounts.


This information is provided by the Division of Perinatal, Early Childhood, and Special Health Needs within the Department of Public Health.