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Learn about Residential Programs & Placement Agencies

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) licenses Residential Care Programs, Foster Care Placement Agencies, and Adoption Agencies in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Residential programs

Residential programs provide group care and housing for children and youth in a facility setting outside of their family home. EEC grants two types of licenses for residential programs:

  • Temporary shelter licenses
  • Group care licenses

Temporary shelters provide residential care and services to children under 18 years of age for a short term period no longer than 45 days, with a few exceptions. These programs provide children with specialized care, such as clinical services and community-based acute treatment (CBAT).

Group care programs serve children in a residential setting for more than 45 days, and cover multiple types of care, including:

  • Community group homes
  • Transition to independent living programs
  • Programs serving teen parents under age 16 who are homeless or in the care of the Department of Social Services
  • The residential component of Department of Elementary and Secondary Education-approved private schools for students with special needs

EEC also licenses all Department of Youth Services (DYS) residential facilities, either under a temporary shelter license or group care license.  EEC's temporary shelter license allows a maximum stay of 90 days in DYS facilities.

You can find an EEC-licensed Residential Program using our searchable online directory.

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Placement agencies

Placement agencies oversee the approval of families to provide foster care in a private residence or to adopt a child. In Massachusetts, EEC licenses:

  • Foster care placement agencies
  • Adoption agencies

Foster care placement agencies provide substitute parental care for up to 6 children in a private residence on a regular, 24 hour a day basis. 

Adoption agencies place children for adoption and offer adoption related services. In Massachusetts, adoption is only allowed through a licensed adoption placement agency.

If you were adopted and are looking to find out about your biological family, you can learn more about the laws governing access to adoption information.

If you are a pregnant woman or an expectant father and are contemplating allowing your child to be adopted, you may find the section on "Services to Birth Parents in Adoption" in our regulations (102 CMR 5.00) to be helpful.

If you adopted a child and are looking for post-adoptive resources or support, Adoption Journeys provides a network of services for adoptive families.

You can find an EEC-licensed Foster Care or Adoption Placement Agency using our searchable online directory.

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