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Can I get full-time child care for free?

 

The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) gives some homeless families “homeless vouchers”. Homeless vouchers pay for full-time child care for your child. The child care is free to you.

1. I get TAFDC and I am staying in a shelter. Can I get free child care right away? 

If you get TAFDC and you are staying in any kind of shelter, you can get free, full-time child care right away. 

If you live in a Local Housing Authority Transitional Housing Program (LHATHP) and you get TAFDC, you can also get free, full-time child care right away.

Ask your DTA worker or shelter advocate for a “homeless voucher.”  

2. The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) placed my family in a shelter.  Can I get free child care right away? 

If the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) places you in a shelter, you can get free full-time child care right away. You do not have to be getting TAFDC.

If DTA placed you in a Local Housing Authority Transitional Housing Program (LHATHP), you can also get free, full-time child care right away. 

Ask your DTA worker or shelter advocate for a “homeless voucher.”

3. The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) did not place my family in the shelter where we are staying. Can I get free child care right away? 

Only if you get TAFDC. You can only get free child care right away if:

  • you get TAFDC and you are staying in a shelter or a Local Housing Authority Transitional Housing Program (LHATHP) or
  • you do not get TAFDC, but DTA placed you in the shelter.

If you do not get TAFDC and DTA did not place you in the shelter, you cannot get free child care right away.

You can apply for “income-eligible child care.”  “Income-eligible child care” is low-cost child care for people who have a low income. You can get a “priority” if you are homeless. If you get a priority then you can get close to the top of the wait list. You still may have to wait months for a child care voucher or a placement.

You can apply for income-eligible child care at your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency. Ask your shelter advocate for help. 

Note:

If you got TAFDC in the last 12 months, you may be able to get a TAFDC “transitional” child care voucher right away.  Talk to your DTA worker or your local legal services program.

You may want to apply for TAFDC so that you can get child care. Even if you only stay on TAFDC for one month, you can get child care while you are working, for a whole year after you stop getting TAFDC. If you are working at the end of that year, you can get income-eligible child care and you do not have to wait for it.

4. I am homeless, but I don’t live in a shelter and I do not get TAFDC.  I am staying with friends or relatives. Can I get free child care right away? 

No, you can only get free child care right away if:

  • you get TAFDC and you are staying in a shelter or a Local Housing Authority Transitional Housing Program (LHATHP) or
  • you do not get TAFDC, but DTA placed you in a shelter.

You can apply for “income-eligible child care.”  Income-eligible child care is low-cost child care for people who have a low income. You can apply for income-eligible child care at your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency.

Note:

If you got TAFDC in the last 12 months, you may be able to get a TAFDC “transitional” child care voucher right away.  Talk to your DTA worker or local legal services program.

You may want to apply for TAFDC so that you can get child care. Even if you only stay on TAFDC for one month, you can get child care while you are working, for a whole year after you stop getting TAFDC. If you are working at the end of that year, you can get income-eligible child care and you do not have to wait for it.

5.  Do I have to work or go to school to get a “homeless voucher” for free full-time child care?       

You can get a “homeless voucher” for 3 months of free full-time child care even if you do not work or go to school.

If you want to keep your voucher past the end of 3 months, you need to work or go to an approved school or training program. If you work or go to an approved school or training program, you can keep your homeless voucher without a time limit. Read Keeping your childcare.

If you have a disability and you cannot work or go to a program, you can still keep the voucher.  


Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and Greater Boston Legal Services
Created May 2009


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