Massachusetts child care and preschool education programs offer free or inexpensive child care options to low-income families with children. Families can choose the type of child care they want, including day care centers, family child care, in-home child care, or preschool. Many of the Massachusetts child care and preschool education programs also offer family support services such as nursing care or referrals; however these services vary per region.
Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) Child Care Services
The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) provides free or low-cost child care to Massachusetts families so they can work, find a job, or attend an approved education or job training program. Eligible families can apply by visiting a DTA office, or by calling (800) 249-2007.
Early Intervention (EI) is designed to help infants and toddlers who are at risk of developmental difficulties. Specialist teams work with children and their families to determine what services are needed and the best way to provide those services. Services include physical or occupational therapy; speech or language therapy; psychological services; social and educational services; nursing care; behavior modification; nutritional counseling; family counseling; and home visits.
EI services are for children up to three years of age who are not developing typically for their age or who have a physical, emotional, or cognitive condition that may result in a developmental delay.
Anyone, including a parent, doctor, caregiver, teacher, or friend can make a referral to an EI program by calling the Central Directory for Early Intervention at (800) 905-8437. The costs of EI services are covered by the Department of Public Health.
The Head Start program is a free program for low-income families that helps children up to five years of age get a healthy start in life and prepare for school. Services include health screenings, nutrition counseling, language development, play groups, parenting training, and referrals to health and social services. To apply, visit a regional office or call (866) 763-6481.
Homeless Child Care
Child care assistance is available to families living in Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and Department of Children and Families (DCF) homeless shelters so homeless parents have time to look for permanent housing, attend job training, or go to work. If your family is living in a homeless shelter, domestic violence shelter, or other temporary housing approved by the DHCD or DCF; or if you are at risk of homelessness and taking part in a DHCD-approved homeless program, your child is eligible. To apply, you should get a referral from your DHCD or DCF shelter case manager or homeless services provider.