Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) Grants

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) provides monthly C3 grants to support early education and care providers’ day-to-day operational and workforce costs. 

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C3 Fiscal Year 2024 Payment Changes

Due to greater than expected growth in C3 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.

We will share more details on how much C3 funding specific programs can expect to receive in May and June in the near future.


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:

  • Group 1: 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.
  • Group 2: 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.
  • Group 3: 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. 
  • Group 4: 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.

As of now, these changes are through June 2024, the current state fiscal year. Governor Healey has proposed continuing C3 in FY 2025, which begins July 2024. EEC is working with our colleagues in the Legislature to sustain the program into FY 2025 and beyond, while also planning for important program adjustments to reflect the shift from COVID era stabilization to ongoing operational investments.  

We understand how difficult these late year changes will be for the programs affected. We are here to support you in any way we can.

Additional Resources

Overview

The C3 grants are non-competitive and available for eligible EEC-licensed child care providers open and serving families in Massachusetts.

C3 funds are in addition to current state funding and do not replace the existing subsidy funding system. 

Note: 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).

C3 grants can be used for: 

  • 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. 

C3 Grant Eligibility

Providers eligible for C3 grants:

  • All EEC-licensed child care providers open to serve children, regardless of whether or not they serve children who receive child care financial assistance. 
  • Funded programs approved by EEC and run by private schools.

Residential Programs & Placement Agencies are not eligible to apply for C3 grants. 

Providers are eligible for operational funding for the months they are open for services to children and families.

* NOTE: Due to limited funding available, programs who have not received any C3 funding before cannot apply for C3 payments for May and June 2024.

C3 Grant Amounts

The C3 funding formula considers each child care provider’s licensed capacity/staffing levels, workforce investments, and community they serve. 

Key components of the formula include:

  • Funding amounts are determined based on capacity and staffing costs.
  • The formula also uses an equity adjustment for programs located in historically marginalized communities or providing services to significant numbers of low-income children.

How to Apply

If you have more than one site in Massachusetts, you may apply for each site.

You will need to provide the following information to complete your application:

  • Information on classrooms, current enrollment, and scholarships
  • Information on educator/ assistant compensation
  • Confirmation of consumer web page rate and hours information (Providers can view and update this information in LEAD)
  • Race/ Ethnicity and Gender of FCC Operator/Center Director
  • Attestations: maintaining salaries and providing tuition relief

A budget is NOT required for the application, although you should maintain financial records to track the use of funds.

Accessing the Application:

  1. Log-in to LEAD
    1. Enter your LEAD username and password
    2. Click login
  2. On the homepage​, click on view grants under the “Grants Management” banner
    1. If you have one program site this will take you to the EEC Grants Dashboard
    2. If you have more than one program site, you will need to select each program site separately
  3. Click “Apply Today” to begin your application

Additional Resources

Next Steps

After a site application has been approved:

  • You will receive payments monthly.
    • Payment disbursement will be based on the date of application approval.
  • Each month, you must recertify that your application information is up-to-date to continue receiving payments. At that time, you can update your information.
    • You will receive notifications via email and in LEAD reminding you to update your information each month.
  • You will be required to complete a mid-point and post-grant report on how the funds were used and submit required state reporting.

Additional Resources

Get Help

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

Additional Resources

Last updated: March 7, 2024

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