Vouchers and other forms of assistance can help with paying child care expenses in Massachusetts. The state provides qualified low income families with access to several different options. A number of conditions will need to be met by applicants and all of the government resources are very limited.
One component is known as income-eligible child care. This is financial assistance and is offered as a form of subsidized day care. It is an option for non-TAFDC families who meet low income guidelines. They also need to be currently working, in a job training program, education classes, or disabled. It is only also an option for children that are under the age of 13. However that age limit can be increased for disabled applicants or if the parent has a disability. The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care administers this resource at the state level.
The parent will still need to pay a portion of their bills. The exact amount that the participant needs to pay for their expenses will be based on a sliding fee scale that will factor in their total household income and also the size of the family. This program does allow the parent to select the type of child care that they think is best for their child and they can select the provider as well.
To apply for a government subsidy, inquire at a local day care provider or dial the statewide child care resource and referral agency at 617-988-6600. There is usually a waiting list in Massachusetts, and if so, your name will be placed onto it. Some families may be provided a priority status and will receive attention before others.
Some people who may be given priority include the following. Children in foster care or homeless families that are referred by DCF (DSS). Teenage parents of family's with deployed military personnel may receive priority. The disabled and children with special needs are a couple more examples. However there are other scenarios as well.
Once you are able to fully enroll, a counselor can help you find a affordable and quality child care provider. You will need to use someone or a company that is approved and licensed by Massachusetts. The counselor will also notify you how much you will have to pay as your portion of the child care expenses. The participant will need to pay all their fees on time and abide by other conditions in order to remain enrolled.
Massachusetts may also offer child care vouchers. If you are found to be qualified for this component, then the parent can select any child or day care provider who is approved and has space available. Parents can chose from daycare centers, approved family members, or even in-home services.
As part of this voucher program, the enrolled family will still need to pay a part of the total cost. The state of Massachusetts, using government grants, will pay the balance. Certain very low income families may receive totally free child care.
As part of this component, the state will still allow people to select the method of child care they want. Parents can select from a host of options. This can include center-based, in home, or day care by a relative of the child, such as an aunt or uncle. The provider of course needs to be located with the state of Massachusetts.
As indicated, certain fees and co-payments will still be due. The amount that a resident will need to pay is based on factors such as income, number of household members, and other factors. In some cases the care is free, and this is loosely based on the Federal Government Poverty Guidelines. Massachusetts also uses a sliding fee scale, so the lower your income the less the family needs to pay, and vice verse if their income is high.
Another resources in Massachusetts is the DTA Child Care Services, This is for current and former TAFDC families and may be provided as free or low-cost child care. Qualified families will often be able to receive priority for any available child care vouchers and slots with their provider. There is not usually a waiting list for this component.
The Massachusetts Homeless Child Care program is financial assistance for families or individuals that are currently living in homeless shelters. This as well is intended to provide parents time to look for permanent housing, find a job, or attend school and training. This is administered in close partnership with the DHCD / DCF homeless shelters and temporary housing units. This resource may also have a waiting list in place and funding is limited.
Teenage parents have a program for their needs as well. Financial aid and vouchers are offered as part of the state' child care programs. This can be free to qualified teen parents. They will also benefit from other government organized support services. The applicant needs to be in high school, a GED program, currently working, or in a Massachusetts approved job training program. So the teen needs to continue on the path to self-sufficiency. A goal is to help the teenager to become self-supporting and responsible parents over the mid to long term.
If you need help in selecting a provider or need more information on available resources, the child care resource and referral agencies, or CCR&R, can often assist. They partner with the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) to provide advise, guidance, support, and otherwise help families find safe and affordable care. The agencies can often help lower income families apply for financial assistance or vouchers as well.
To learn more on these or other Massachusetts child care programs, dial 617-988-6600.
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