The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) provides child care financial assistance for families in need. In order to be eligible for funding, you and your family must meet certain requirements. You may be placed on waiting list if funding is not immediately available.
- This page, Early education and care financial assistance for families, is offered by
- Executive Office of Education
- Department of Early Education and Care
Early education and care financial assistance for families
Table of Contents
To meet the income requirement, your household income must initially be at or below 50% of the state median income (SMI). If your child has a documented disability or special need, your household income must initially be at or below 85% of the SMI. Use the SMI Income Eligibility chart to see if your household income is within limits.
Service Need (Activity) Requirement
To meet the service need/activity requirement for child care financial assistance, all of the adult members in your household must be:
- 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 and older than 65; or
- You have a diagnosed and documented disability or special need.*
*Disability/special need of parent is limited to two years.
Key Actions for Eligibility requirements
How to apply
If you are interested in applying for financial assistance, call Mass 211 or contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency.
If funding is available, you will receive a notice in the mail that asks you to schedule an appointment with your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency. At this appointment you will complete an application and provide documents that verify your eligibility for child care financial assistance.
The funding availability letter will indicate which type of child care financial assistance is available:
- An income eligible contracted slot available through a specific program, or
- A voucher available through your local CCR&R that can be used at any program that can accept state subsidy payments (approved by CCR&R).
You must call within 15 days of receiving the letter to schedule an appointment or let us know that you are not interested. It is important to call quickly because other children are still waiting for a space. Be sure to tell us if you have another child that needs care, because there might be funding available for them too.
Key Actions for How to apply
Waitlist for funding
If funding is not available, you may opt to put your name on a waitlist for child care financial assistance.
While on the waitlist, you will be sent:
- A confirmation letter with your household ID number, which is the ID number that is used when referring to your application.
- A renewal letter asking you to confirm that you wish to remain on the waitlist if you have been on the waitlist for 1 year.
If you don't respond to any of these letters, your family will be removed from the waitlist. You can ask to be put back on the waitlist.
- If you call Mass 211 or your CCR&R within 30 days of removal, your name may be placed back on the waitlist with your original application date.
- If you call Mass 211 or your CCR&R after 30 days of removal, you will be placed back on the waitlist with a new application date.
You can update your record, view your waitlist status, and see your notification history on EEC's Self Service Waitlist Application Tool anytime. If you do not have your username and password, please contact Mass 211 or your CCR&R to update your information.
Learn more about EEC's waitlist for child care financial assistance in these parent information sheets, available in English, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Spanish.
NEW COPAYMENT STRUCTURE:
If you receive EEC Financial Assistance, you may be required to pay a parent fee depending on your household size and income. EEC has worked over the last few years to reduce fees for families receiving EEC financial assistance and completed the roll-out of new fees on February 1, 2022. Every year, EEC will also update the parent fee chart for any changes to the Federal Poverty Guidelines and the State Median Income. View the updated parent fee chart, and use EEC’s online calculator to get an estimate of your parent fee.
If you are currently receiving EEC Financial Assistance and you have questions about your parent fee, please reach out to the subsidy administrator listed on your Application and Fee Agreement.
Work with families who receive EEC child care subsidies? Parent Fee Update Letter.
NOTICE REGARDING PARENT FEES FOR FAMILIES TERMINATED FROM CARE BETWEEN 2019 AND 2021:
If your EEC child care subsidy was terminated between March 2019 and February 2021. A court has ruled that EEC must allow families who lost child care because of fees between March 2019 and February 2021 to get back on the waitlist, even if they still owe fees. EEC has a new fee scale. For most families, the new parent fees are lower than they were under the prior fee scale.
If your family was terminated from child care between March 2019 and February 2021 because you owed fees, and you want to get back on the waitlist, you may do so by calling Mass 211 (dial 2-1-1 or call (877) 211-6277).
You can also get information about the court decision from Greater Boston Legal Services, which represents the families affected at no cost, at 833-887-1717 or https://www.gbls.org/child-care-fees.
If you left child care because you owed fees at a different time, you may be able to get back on the waitlist if you work out a Repayment Agreement with the provider whom you owe. Call Mass211 (dial 2-1-1 or call (877) 211-6277) for more information.
Key Actions for Parent Fees
Additional Resources for Parent Fees
Low-income families with children age five or younger may be eligible for child care financial assistance through the federal Head Start program. Head Start funding is not administrated by the Department of Early Education and Care.