- Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll
- Executive Office of Education
- Executive Office of Health and Human Services
- Department of Early Education and Care
Media Contact for Healey Driscoll Administration Announces Significant Improvements to Child Care Financial Assistance Program
Karissa Hand, Press Secretary
Boston — The Healey-Driscoll Administration has announced significant improvements to Child Care Financial Assistance programs in Massachusetts. Updated regulations and policies will simplify the application process for parents, reduce paperwork for families and early education programs, and better support homeless families, families with disabilities and families facing domestic violence who take advantage of this program. With these changes, the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is making it easier for young, working, low-income families to access the subsidies available for child care and “out of school time” education programs.
“One of the top priorities of our administration is making child care more affordable and accessible. These regulation and policy changes will help break down barriers for our low-income families and early education programs, making government services more user friendly and equitable,” said Governor Maura Healey. “We’re proud to take this important step forward that we know will lead to increased labor market participation and economic mobility for families, and support children’s school and life success.”
“In Massachusetts, we are investing in child care so that regardless of zip code or economic background, our youngest learners can access the high-quality education they need to succeed in school and life. Access to affordable child care is also an engine of the state’s economy, enabling families to participate in our workforce,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “I am excited to see the impact these significant changes will bring to our state, making Massachusetts a more affordable place to live, learn and work.”
EEC has been working over the past year and a half with key stakeholders to make these significant child care financial assistance regulation changes. From the outset, EEC took on these regulation changes with the goals of centering the family voice and restructuring the agency’s operations, policies, and procedures to modernize and improve the experience for parents and providers.
Some of the key regulation and policy changes include:
Improving and simplifying communication with families, such as launching email and texting campaigns to reach them directly and support them throughout the process of accessing child care financial assistance;
Reducing and eliminating unnecessary and duplicative paperwork and reporting requirements that create an undue burden for parents;
Updating the provider employment definitions and requirements to reflect the changing nature of work, including more flexibility for hourly wage earners and those working from home;
Waiving fees for homeless families and easing reporting requirements for individuals with disabilities or those participating in treatment for substance abuse;
Better aligning with partner agencies like the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) and Department of Children and Families (DCF) to streamline processes and reduce administrative burdens for families;
Incorporating more inclusive language that supports the dignity of receiving child care financial assistance, and is inclusive of LGBTQ+ families and families with disabilities; and
Shifting policies to be more accessible, meaning they are written in plain language and will eventually be available in up to 14 languages.
“Our administration believes that expanding access to more affordable, high-quality early education and care is the first step to ensuring every Bay State child has access to the education they deserve, regardless of their circumstances or background,” said Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler. “Here in Massachusetts, we don’t just want to get ‘back’ to how things were before the pandemic--the new and updated regulation and policy changes will bring the state’s child care financial assistance program forward. With a focused intentionality on centering parents and simplifying the processes for providers, we are creating the child care financial assistance system that students and families deserve.”
“I am grateful for the significant changes we are making to our child care financial assistance programs in Massachusetts. Through regulations and policy, we are shifting the programs to be easier and more accessible to enable families to work and support their children’s school success. Using technology enhancements and eliminating barriers, we are creating a more modern, flexible and dignified system,” said Early Education and Care Commissioner Amy Kershaw. “I want to thank the Early Education and Care Board, our early education and care programs and partners, and sister agencies who have worked collaboratively and intentionally with us to make changes that center families’ experiences and will bring greater equity and inclusion for the children and families participating in our child care financial assistance programs.”
The state’s Child Care Financial Assistance programs are funded federally through the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) and by the state level through multiple EEC line items. This year, the Healey-Driscoll administration and the legislature delivered $778 million towards child care financial assistance, an increase of $60 million over FY23. Currently, 58,000 children and their families access child care with the support of state financial assistance. Nearly 4,500 early education and child care centers partner with the Commonwealth to provide care to low-income or subsidized students, which is 56% of the licensed early education and care programs in the state.
“The Board of Early Education and Care was proud to vote to adopt these updated child care financial assistance program regulations. These significantly improved regulations will serve as the foundation for the programs and set the tone for what we know these programs can and will be – equitably supporting families to afford and access high-quality early education and care across the Commonwealth. I am grateful for the Board, the Healey-Driscoll Administration, and our partners efforts and the direction that Massachusetts is moving in,” said Paul Belsito, Chair of the Board of Early Education and Care.
“For some families who rely on child care while they work, finding appropriate, high-quality care can be difficult. I am grateful to EEC for their efforts to support families and eliminating administrative barriers to a service that can make such a difference for children and their parents. By streamlining this process through the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Transitional Assistance, we are reducing the burden placed on people to provide information to apply for services for which they are already qualified, expediting their access to the child care they need,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh.
EEC has launched new family facing website pages to promote access to and understanding of child care financial assistance. You can learn more about the programs at Mass.gov/CCFA.
Statements of Support
“I applaud Governor Healey and Lt. Governor Driscoll for taking these proactive steps to improve our Commonwealth’s child care system. Thanks to increased child care funding in the state budget as well as today’s announcement, child care will be less expensive, more inclusive, and easier to access — especially for low-income families, parents with disabilities, and LGBTQIA+ parents,” said U.S. House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark (MA-5). “Child care is a critical piece of our economic infrastructure, and by improving access to care, we grow the economy by growing the middle class. This is a win for families and for our economy overall.”
“I am thrilled to see the Healey-Driscoll Administration rolling out changes to improve how the Commonwealth supports working families who are receiving financial assistance for early education and care,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “The Senate was proud to include a historic $1.5 billion for early education and care in the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget, which will expand the number of children who are eligible for financial assistance, provide crucial pay increases for our early educators, and ensure that early education and care programs have the funds they need to keep their doors open. I look forward to continuing our collaboration with the Healey-Driscoll Administration to make early education and care accessible and affordable for all families across Massachusetts.”
"I'm incredibly proud of the House's historic investments in, and ongoing commitment to, vital early education and care programming, especially for the Commonwealth's neediest children," said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). "Simplifying the process so that vulnerable families may gain access to child care more easily, and making it more inclusive, will ensure the state's investment is helping those that it intended to serve. I thank the Senate and the Healey-Driscoll administration for its partnership in these efforts."
“The House has been committed to investing in our children and families. These updates are an important step in our process toward supporting accessibility, affordability, quality, and the workforce in the early education and care sector,” said State Representative Denise C. Garlick, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education.
“Overhauling the state's subsidy system was one of the recommendations of the special legislative early education and care commission that issued its report last year, and so I'm very pleased to see the Department of Early Education and Care making such good progress in implementing this recommendation," said State Senator Jason Lewis, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. “These changes will make the subsidy system more accessible and streamlined for families and providers, and establish the capability going forward to expand income eligibility so many more families that are struggling to afford sky-high child care costs can qualify for financial assistance.”
“There has never been more momentum, cooperation and determination in Massachusetts to find effective solutions to systemic challenges. The Healey-Driscoll Administration’s child care financial assistance programs regulation and policy changes have been done in partnership with early education programs and partners to make substantial improvements that reflect the different perspectives and experiences of families. These will greatly improve access and affordability for low-income families, and support more providers to participate in the state’s child care financial assistance programs,” said Amy O’Leary, Executive Director at Strategies for Children.
“On behalf of the families we work with, we applaud EEC’s leadership for the new financial assistance regulations and policies and for the ongoing collaboration with community partners. These changes will go a long way towards promoting access and equity for vulnerable families,” said Sarah Levy, Senior Attorney at the Greater Boston Legal Services.
“Horizons has been excited to participate in the collaborative process with the EEC and other child care providers to simplify, modernize and expand access to child care financial assistance. These changes will particularly have a positive impact on child care access and affordability for families experiencing homelessness. The culture shift currently taking place at EEC, creating more family centric solutions which accommodate the reality and complexity of working family’s lives, is a welcome change,” said Kate Barrand, President & CEO of Horizons for Homeless Children.
“As the largest collective provider of youth services in Massachusetts, we know what an impact these significant changes to child care financial assistance will have for the children and families in our early education and afterschool programs. We are proud to partner with the Healey-Driscoll Administration and other early education providers throughout the process to simplify and streamline the child care financial assistance application and update regulations, policies, and procedures to center the family experience so all children can grow and thrive,” said Kate-Marie Roycroft, Chief Executive Officer of the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs.
“The Massachusetts Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs is comprised of 40 organizations with 64 sites, making a difference in the lives of over 75,000 youth daily. We are grateful to the Department of Early Education and Care for creating a process for families to be able to more readily access funding by simplifying the requirements. We know these efforts take time but because of EEC’s continued support, families are able to access affordable quality programs across the Commonwealth, like those provided by Boys & Girls Clubs,” said Jennifer Aldworth, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs.
“EEC’s willingness to bring together state policy leaders and early education and out of school time providers through ongoing working sessions has demonstrated the agency’s commitment to ensuring an inclusive, equitable and family-friendly subsidy system. For Kids Only Afterschool is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with EEC staff and state-wide colleagues on the future direction of subsidy policies and procedures. We are excited for the upcoming changes and to provide greater access to high quality early education and out of school time programming for children and families across the state,” said Briana Flannery, Deputy Director of For Kids Only Afterschool.
“Square One has experienced a transformational change in the recent efforts by Commissioner Kershaw and the team at MA Department of Early Education and Care to strengthen not only the voices of children and families, but the experiences and expertise offered by the field of providers. I truly appreciate the transparency of this collaborative team and our shared commitment to the reduction of barriers for working families and vulnerable children. We are witnessing and experiencing true change in our field - change that will result in higher quality learning for young children and stable, accessible care for working families,” said Dawn DiStefano, President and CEO of Square One.
“When child care works well, Massachusetts families and the entire economy work best,” said Tom Weber, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Business Coalition for Early Childhood Education and Eastern Bank Foundation Fellow. “I applaud these efforts to strengthen child care as economic infrastructure that boosts labor force participation and supports economic mobility with benefits for everyone.”