C3 Grant FAQs

Learn more about the Child Care Stabilization (C3) Grants from answers to these frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Massachusetts provides monthly C3 grants to promote sustainable early education and care operations and quality investments.

C3 Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Payment Changes

1. When will I start to see a decrease in my C3 payments?

Some programs will start to see a decrease in their May 2024 monthly C3 payment.

Your child care financial assistance enrollment and SVI information is available on your C3 application. Programs will receive notice from EEC with their C3 group.

2. Why is my C3 payment decreasing?

Due to greater than expected growth in the Commonwealth Cares for Children C3 program over the past several months, EEC must make adjustments to C3 monthly payments for some programs in May and June to live within fiscal year (FY) 2024 budgeted funding levels.

All programs who currently participate in C3 will continue to receive funding through June 2024 and Governor Healey has proposed continuing C3 in FY 2025. The state’s 2025 fiscal year begins July 1, 2024.

Starting with May 2024 C3 payments, some early education and care programs across the state will experience a decrease in their monthly payment amount as follows:

  • No change:
    • Programs whose enrollment is made up of 33% or more of children receiving EEC child care financial assistance (known as “vouchers” or “contracts”).
    • Head Start (Head Start) and Early Head Start (Early Head Start) programs.
  • Keep 55% of regular monthly C3 payment:
    • Programs whose enrollment is made up of less than 33% of children receiving EEC child care financial assistance (known as “vouchers” or “contracts”) but are serving at least one child receiving EEC financial assistance, and/ or
    • Programs that operate in a highest SVI community.
  • Keep 30% of regular monthly C3 payment:
    • Programs who do not currently serve any children receiving EEC child care financial assistance but have a voucher agreement or contract for EEC financial assistance and do not operate in a highest SVI community. 
  • Keep 25% of regular monthly C3 payment:
    • Programs who do not currently serve any children receiving EEC child care financial assistance, do not have a voucher agreement, and do not operate in a highest SVI community. 

C3 has been a game changer for early education and care programs – this year contributing to a 7% increase in child care programs, adding more than 10,600 child care slots across the state. The C3 formula is based on the number of programs and children served. C3’s success in supporting new programs and classrooms to open is creating larger than expected growth. This means that the amount budgeted for C3 will need to be shared amongst more providers. With these changes, EEC is ensuring that C3 continues to reach all programs universally, while directing greater resources to programs serving low- and moderate-income working families.

EEC will be distributing the full $475 million appropriated to C3 in the FY 2024 budget. These changes are not a cut to overall C3 program funding. The same amount of total funding will be spent as planned.

3. What is considered a highest SVI community for these changes and where can I find out if my program is considered a highest SVI community?

For C3, EEC currently defines high-need communities using the social vulnerability index (SVI). SVI looks at many economic and social indicators, including a community’s poverty and unemployment rate and educational obtainment and income levels. Highest SVI is defined as 0.75 and above.

Participating programs can find more information about their SVI on their monthly C3 grant application.

4. How can my program start to accept EEC child care financial assistance?

Programs interested in starting the process to accept EEC child care financial assistance should reach out to their local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (CCR&R). You can find your local CCR&R online: https://childcare.mass.gov/eec_ccrrsearch.

5. How long will I see this decrease in my C3 payments?

As of now, these changes are for May and June 2024 (i.e., the current fiscal year).

Governor Healey has proposed continuing C3 in FY 2025. EEC is working with the Legislature to sustain this critical program into FY 2025 and beyond, while also making important program adjustments to reflect the shift from COVID era stabilization to ongoing operational investments.  

6. If my program has not participated in C3 before but wants to now, can I get funding?

Due to limited funding available, new programs cannot apply at this time.

7. My program is a Head Start program, what does this mean for me?

Head Start (Head Start) and Early Head Start (Early Head Start) programs currently participating in C3 will not experience any changes to their C3 payment amount in fiscal year 2024.

8. How can I help share this information with programs?

EEC has created a communication toolkit in 18 languages that includes template email, talking points, and frequently asked questions to help people spread the word.

Additional Resources

C3 Eligibility

1. If a program closes temporarily during the 12-month grant period due to inactive status, will the program still be eligible for the grant during that month?

Programs in inactive status are not able to apply or recertify their C3 grant while they are in inactive status. If a program is in inactive status for a full month, they are not eligible for grant funding during that month.

Programs that close temporarily during the 12-month grant period due to inactive status (including inactive status pending an investigation) will have their payment frozen as of the date that the program became inactive in LEAD. Providers closed due to an inactive status pending the outcome of an investigation may not recertify until the investigation has been closed and corrective action has been approved by EEC.

2. If a program closes temporarily during the 12-month grant period (e.g., vacation, illness/injury) will the program still be eligible for the grant during that month?

Providers will not be penalized for temporary closures that occur during the grant period, provided they are open and serving children for at least part of that month.

3. If a program closes permanently, will the program need to return the grant funds?

Any program that has closed permanently is not eligible to receive continued grant funding. Programs that permanently close are expected to notify EEC prior to their date of closure. EEC can then help the provider determine whether any funds need to be returned. Funds received prior to the date of closure may be used for approved expenses. Any funds received after the date of permanent closure will need to be returned to EEC.

Allowable Expenditures

1. What can programs use the C3 grant funds for?

Providers should spend the funding on one or more of the following categories:

  • Personnel costs, benefits, stipends, and other supports for recruitment and retention; 

  • Professional development and other investments to support staff in building educator qualifications; 

  • Other investments to improve program quality such as supplies, curriculum, screening tools, etc.; and 

  • Rent or mortgage payments, utilities, facilities maintenance and improvements, or insurance.

 2. What documentation is required to support the monthly grant attestations a provider completes each month?

Within the grant attestation, a provider attests to using the funds for only items in the allowable expenditure categories. Supporting documentation should demonstrate that the purchase in question falls within at least one of the allowable use categories. If necessary, you may need to include an explanation of how the items or staff time in question fall within the allowable categories.

Examples of documentation include receipts (electronic or paper), paid invoices, payroll records, and employee timecards.

 3. What is the difference between a major renovation and minor building updates or maintenance?

Major renovations are not allowable. This includes:

  • Structural changes to the foundation, roof, floor exterior, or load-bearing walls of a facility;
  • Extension of a facility to increase its floor area; and
  • Extensive alteration of a facility such as to significantly change its function and purpose, even if such renovation does not include structural change.

Minor building updates or maintenance to the facility and/or grounds that do not change the fundamental structure of the building or alter the function or purpose of the facility are allowable.

Some examples include:

  • Repairs to HVAC systems;
  • Snow removal snow or other weather-related services;
  • Updates to playground areas;
  • Installing new interior, carpeting, or flooring; and
  • Replacing outdated building fixtures and general repairs.

 4. What are the requirements and restrictions for how the grant funds can be used for payroll?

Wages for child care personnel, pay increases, bonuses, stipends, and benefits are all allowable uses for the grant funds.

Child care programs may not decrease an hourly employee’s pay rate but are allowed to decrease the employee’s hours in a given week. Child care programs may not furlough any employees while receiving the C3 grant funds.

5. Can the grant funds be used to pay the director/provider? Can this include replacing lost income due to low enrollment?

The C3 grant funds may be used for wages and benefits for child care program personnel, including compensation for any staff supporting a child care center or family child care providers and their employees.

6. Can I use funds to pay for previous program expenses?

Providers can use the funds to pay for program expenses within the fiscal year outlined in the allowable expenditures.

7. Can child care providers use the C3 grant funds to cover an individual’s family subsidy co-payments or tuition?

Child care providers cannot use the C3 grant funds to cover an individual’s family subsidy co-payments, but can use the funds to stabilize or reduce the tuition charged to families that do not receive subsidies. If a child care provider intends to cover an individual’s family subsidy co-payments, they must use funds other than those from EEC.

8. What supplies can I use the funds for? 

Funds can be used to purchase supplies that support regular program operation and help promote the health and safety of staff and participants.


1. Is there a deadline for spending this funding?

At this time, there is not a spending deadline for programs receiving the C3 funding. However, the monthly design of grant funding is to ensure that programs have the stable cash flow for ongoing operational costs that adjusts to changing conditions (i.e., staffing changes).

2. When can programs start a recertification?

Programs will be prompted (via email and in LEAD) to recertify the application on the first day of the month they are recertifying. The recertification process can be done at any time after the first of the month. For example, if an application was submitted such that the first month of the grant is September, they would need to recertify at the beginning of October.

3. When do programs need to recertify by?

Funding request deadlines occur 4 times a year. That means all requested funds from a particular quarter must be submitted before the end of the month following (see schedule below). Also, at the end of a quarter, providers who have two or more uncashed checks may have payments placed on hold.

  • Please note: Programs can submit monthly recertification requests. Programs who wait to submit recertifications beyond a single quarter will not be able to submit those recertifications.


Months in 2024

Due Date for Fund Requests


January, February, March

April 5, 2024


April, May, June

July 5, 2024


July, August, September

October 5, 2024


October, November, December

January 5, 2025


4. Do programs need to spend all the grant funding each month?

Recipients of the C3 grants are not required to spend funds within the same month they are received.

Application Process

1. Is a budget required to apply?

No, a budget is not required as part of the application.

2. What happens after a program submits an application?

After an application is submitted, a confirmation email will be sent to the email address listed in the program’s LEAD account profile.

During the review process, if additional information is required or revisions are needed, the program will receive an email through LEAD asking for specific revisions.

Once an application is reviewed and approved, an email notification of the approval will be sent to the applicant. The date of the application approval will determine the date of the first payment based on the payment schedule. Refer to the disbursement schedule linked within the grant dashboard in the LEAD portal.

Regular email notifications will be sent when payments are released.

3. How will the program receive the funds?

The provider can indicate the preferred method in LEAD. There are two payment options:

  1. Direct deposit or electronic funds transfer
  2. Paper check by mail

4. If an organization has more than one Massachusetts location, am I eligible to receive more than one grant?

Yes. Every licensed child care program site is eligible for a grant. This includes multi-site programs. Umbrella organizations must submit individual applications for each individual site they manage, but they may not submit a single application that covers all managed sites. Eligibility and award amounts will be determined at the site level based on each site’s licensed capacity and will consider the community’s SVI.

5. Will a W-9 be required as part of the application?

Yes. The required W-9 information is included in the application, so providers do not need to download or upload a separate form. Check out this video to learn how to complete a Form W 9

Programs should contact an accountant or tax professional to understand more about their particular tax situation and how this guidance applies to their specific business.

Grant Calculation

1. How is a program’s licensed capacity determined?

For Group and School Age/Center-Based programs, the formula will use a center’s total licensed capacity to calculate the base amount of the monthly payment. If a program needs to adjust its site capacity, it should contact a licensor or submit an appeal on the grant using the appeal form embedded in the application.

Because Family Child Care providers’ capacity changes with enrollment, all FCC sites will be calculated using a capacity of 10 slots, regardless of the actual capacity, for the purposes of the formula. Programs do not have to serve 10 children at the time of application.

Fiscal Monitoring

1. Do programs have to complete federal grant reporting to receive C3 funding?

Child care programs who have received C3 funding are not considered a direct subrecipient of grant funds and, therefore, are not subject to federal reporting. Additionally, child care programs are not subject to report C3 grant funding in the Uniform Financial Report (UFR) submitted to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Operational Services Division (OSD).

2. Are the C3 grants taxable?

The IRS has published information indicating that “receipt of a government grant by a business is generally not excluded from the business’s gross income under the Federal Tax Code and therefore is taxable.”

Consult an accountant or tax professional to understand more about the program’s particular tax situation and how this guidance applies.

3. How should a program manage/account for having multiple streams of funding from EEC and other state agencies?

Programs should spend all funding in accordance with the specific requirements of each grant program. When receiving multiple streams of funding from EEC and other agencies, it is recommended that child care programs:

  • Document the amount(s) of funds received from each source separately,
  • Review the terms of each grant program to clearly understand the allowable (and nonallowable) uses for each award, and
  • Segregate funds from each of the different grant funding sources. This could include physically separating checks or depositing the funds in different bank accounts.

 4How can a sole proprietor of an FCC account for and document payments to themselves?

Self-employed FCC providers should keep separate accounts and records for business and personal finances. To show payments from the business to the person, documentation may include:

  • Checks payable from the business bank account to the sole proprietor/individual, and
  • Electronic statements that document funds transferred from the business bank account to the personal bank account.

Records of self-payments of grant funds from the business should be consistent with personal records for tax purposes.

5. Can a sole proprietor of an FCC use the grant funds to pay expenses that are associated with the program but are also inclusive of normal household bills?

Allowable categories for the grant include rent, or mortgage payments, utilities, and insurance. Costs claimed toward the grant must align with your business expenses reported in your federal taxes.

6. What is fiscal monitoring as it relates to this grant program?

Fiscal monitoring refers to the process EEC will follow to assess if grant award recipients are both using and documenting their use of grant funds correctly. The review might include, but is not limited to, requests for:

  • Documentation evidencing expenditures made with grant funds, and
  • Responses to questions about general provider information, provider accounting systems/processes, and the internal controls in place.

Programs will be notified by EEC if they have been chosen to participate in the fiscal monitoring process. Providers who are chosen to participate and do not respond to inquiries will have a hold placed on all future distributions.

7. During the fiscal monitoring review process, will other sources of funding be reviewed outside of the C3 Grant?

The C3 Grant is the sole focus of these fiscal monitoring reviews. Other funds are not within the scope of this review.

8. Will EEC make an unscheduled visit to conduct fiscal monitoring activities? How will I know if I’m required to participate in the fiscal monitoring process?

EEC will not make an unscheduled visit to conduct fiscal monitoring activities. EEC will notify programs in advance if a review at the program location will occur and whether the review will be conducted on-site or remotely.

9. How can I best prepare for an EEC fiscal monitoring review? What if I am not selected for a fiscal monitoring review?

To prepare for an EEC fiscal monitoring review, you should consider:

a. Documenting all expenditures made with grant funds by using the recommended Expenditure Tracker or a similar tool, that includes at a minimum:

  • the date of each expenditure
  • the amount (in dollars) of the expenditure
  • the category of allowable uses under which the expenditure fall
  • the type of supporting documentation for the expenditure

b. Retaining documentation to support each expenditure (i.e. receipts, checks)

c. Reviewing C3 training materials provided by EEC

The responsibilities for document retention are the same regardless of whether you are selected for review. If you are not selected for a review, you should still observe sound documentation practices and prepare as you may be selected for review or asked for supporting documentation by EEC in the future.

10. What are the consequences if a program is selected for fiscal monitoring, and the program is unable to produce all the documentation to support its grant expenditures?

EEC will work with programs in determining what would be acceptable documentation to support the expending of grant funds and help programs determine how to start collecting this documentation as they use grant funds.

11. What type of private information should not be submitted during the fiscal monitoring review process?

Private information such as social security information, home addresses of employees, fingerprint records, driver’s license numbers, medical information, credit card information, bank account numbers of employees, etc. are examples of personal information that should not be sent to EEC or its designee during the fiscal monitoring review.

12. How can a program find out the total it received in grant funds?

Review the grant payments received using LEAD. If there are payments not reflected in LEAD or the program has other questions, contact the C3 Help Desk at 1-833-600-2074 or eecgrantsupport@mtxb2b.com.

Below are the steps you will need to take to obtain a listing of your paid amounts.

  1. Go to https://eeclead.force.com/EEC_Login.
  2. Enter your LEAD username, enter your LEAD password, and click Login.
  3. On the homepage, click on the grant Management tile to open the grants Management system and Dashboard.
  4. Click Log in on the desired Program to go to that Program’s EEC ARPA grants page.
  5. If there are multiple Programs registered, “Search Provider” to quickly locate the Provider.
  6. Now you are on the Dashboard page, scroll down to the Recertification Section.
  7. The Recertification section will contain the list of all applications including - Funding Month, Fund Distribution Status, Projected Amount, and Due Date.


Carefully tracking payments is an important and helpful way to help minimize compliance risks. For example, when each payment is received:

  • If the payment is a physical check, retain a copy of the bank receipts of the deposit/cashing of the check.
  • If the payment occurs via direct deposit, record the amount and date of the received payment, as well as the destination account for the funds received.


13. What is the Expenditure Tracker tool and how can it be used?

The Expenditure Tracker is a template to help track the purchases/payments made using grant award funding. It is a tool to assist child care providers in tracking expenditures made with C3 grant funds. This tracker should not reflect expenditures made with funds other than the C3 Grant funds.

Getting Help

1. Who do I contact for help?

For questions or to get assistance, please contact EEC's C3 Grant Help Desk:

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