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Can you get licensed child care? Can you get full-time care?

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Produced by Deborah Harris, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed December 2017

Licensed child care

The Department of Early Education and Care says a license is a very important credential. It shows the provider meets rules for health, safety and education.

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You qualify for licensed child care if the CCR&RA (or DTA) determines you have a “service need” of 20 or more hours a week. The service need hours are based on the number of hours you are working or participating in education, training, job search or other allowed activities.

Full-time or part-time care

You qualify for full-time child care if the CCR&RA (or DTA) determines you have a service need of 30 or more hours a week. You qualify for part-time child care (up to 6 hours a day) if the CCR&RA (or DTA) determines you have a service need for fewer than 30 hours a week.

Even if you qualify for full-time care, the CCR&RA (or DTA) may not give you a voucher for five full days a week if your schedule does not require full-day care every day. Consult an advocate if this is a problem.

Informals (unlicensed) child care

You can get a voucher for child care you arrange for yourself. You must be working or participating in education, training or job search to get informal child care. There is no minimum number of hours.  DTA Field Operations Memo 2004-17 (Apr. 1, 2004).

An informal child care provider can be

  • any adult person you choose providing care in your home (must pass criminal history check), or
  • an adult relative providing care in the child’s home or the relative’s home.

Informal child care pays $18.18 per day per child for six or more hours for care provided in a relative’s home and $10.91 per day per child for fewer than six hours. The rates are somewhat lower for care provided in the child’s home.

An informal child care provider must attend a CCR&RA orientation session and must complete a health and safety check list. Non-relatives must pass a criminal history check.  606 C.M.R. § 10.10(2); Department of Early Education and Care Financial Assistance Policy Guide, p. 9-4.

Determining your service need

The Child Care Resource and Referral Agency calculates your service need. If you are eligible for child care as a TAFDC applicant or recipient, the CCR&RA calculates your service need based on the authorization from DTA. Ask DTA to put the full number of hours you need on the referral. If you are in education or training, DTA should add one hour of study time for each hour of class or other activity time. DTA Transitions, August 2010, p. 9.

The CCR&RA should

Advocacy Reminders

  • If DTA won't give you a child care authorization or the authorization does not cover the hours you need, you can file an appeal with DTA. See Appeal Rights. Consult an advocate.
  • If the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) only approves you for part-time licensed care because your travel time was not counted, or if your voucher does not include 30 hours for 12 credit hours, or does not include time you spend in paid work, education or training that is not listed on the DTA authorization, or otherwise denies you the child care you need, ask you for your help from your DTA worker or the DTA Ombuds Office. See question Can you fix problems without going to a hearing? You can also file a request with EEC. You can appeal if EEC denies your request for review. See the Department of Early Education and Care Financial Assistance Policy Guide; 606 C.M.R. § 10.13. Consult an advocate.

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

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