Frequently Asked Questions

When will parents fees be paid by the EEC?

The value of parent fees for both March and April will be paid in May 2020 with provider’s billing for April Services.

How do I find emergency child care?

Please visit the emergency child care directory on the home page . This will continue to be updated as more programs are approved. Parents are responsible for reaching out to programs directly.

Are EEC’s subsidy payment policies going to continue?

Yes. EEC will continue paying subsidies and parent fees for our subsidized cases for the duration of the closure.

Who qualifies for emergency child care?

Emergency drop-in child care programs are opening to provide emergency, back-up, drop-in child care for vulnerable families and members of essential workforces who have no other option. Parents and guardians working from home are not a priority for emergency child care. Likewise, if you have alternate child care, such as friends or family, you should not contact these programs. In light of Governor Baker's March 23 emergency order, priority access to emergency child care will be given to vulnerable children and the children of families designated as "COVID-19 Essential Workforces," with emphasis on those in the health care, public health, and human services and law enforcement, public safety, and first responder fields. To slow the spread of the coronavirus, all families should keep children out of group care settings to the greatest extent possible. Emergency Child Care Programs are for when all other non-group-care settings have been exhausted and families have no other options.

What about people who aren’t “essential workers” but still need child care?

This is not intended to be a replacement for traditional childcare. Parents and guardians working from home are not a priority for emergency child care. Likewise, if you have alternate child care, such as friends or family, you should not contact these programs. Families will check in with approved programs in their region to see if there is a slot available they could fill. The program will make decisions, in consultation with the EEC regional office, about who qualifies for care.

Why was my child care program closed?

To slow the spread of coronavirus, Governor Baker issued an emergency order temporarily closing all early childhood education programs across the State of Massachusetts. To prevent community spread of the virus, all families should keep children out of group care settings to the greatest extent possible. Emergency programs are being made available to those who have no other option for care during this public health crisis. All others must abide by social distancing standards laid out by the CDC and the Commonwealth.

How old can kids be for emergency child care?

Emergency child care programs can accept children up to the age of 14 and up to 16 if the child has special needs.

Do you have educational resources for parents?

We are working with our provider network to compile educational resources for families at home with children during this challenging time. This list will continue to be updated.

How do I donate supplies to an emergency child care program?

Please donate supplies directly to your local emergency programs.

Are special needs children eligible for emergency child care?

Parents should work directly with emergency care providers to determine if they are able to accommodate a child with special needs.

What hours are emergency child care programs open?

Each program has discretion to determine its own hours as long as programs can be adequately staffed. Parents should reach out directly to the programs to learn their hours.

Will I be required to pay to enroll my child in an emergency program?

No. The Commonwealth will temporarily fund the operation of these programs.

Will transportation be provided to the emergency child care programs?

No. At this time we are putting all of EEC’s resources toward launching emergency care to support vulnerable children and the children of families who are required to work to maintain the health, safety, and welfare of all Commonwealth citizens as well as maintaining our system of providers for vulnerable families once the crisis is over.

What about children involved with DCF who were enrolled in child care? What happens to them now that child care is temporarily closed?

In advance of the suspension of licensed child care on Sunday, March 22, 2020, EEC worked closely with DCF to identify those cases where DCF children are in need of child care including cases at highest risk or in emergency situations where there is no other options for non-group care settings. EEC and DCF worked hand-in-hand to place these critical cases into approved emergency programs. DCF caseworkers have been working with families to identify alternative arrangements where possible during the public health crisis. Families involved with DCF or providers who are currently serving children involved with DCF should reach out to the caseworker directly to support planning for those children during this critical time.

My child’s regular program is closed but is still collecting tuition and not crediting families. Are they allowed to do that?

Childcare providers are independent businesses and EEC cannot comment on an individual provider’s payment policies. EEC has encouraged all our programs to be flexible with parents during this time. Please refer to the guidance and resources provided by the Office of the Attorney General.

What about families who receive subsidies?

Parents who receive subsidies will not lose their vouchers. However, they can only use emergency child care programs if they are considered part of the “COVID-19 Essential Workforces” or in special cases. The temporary closure of all child care programs will not impact any eligibility for child care. EEC is not requiring programs to collect parent fees in order to receive reimbursement for subsidized care.

What is the plan for children who depend on child care programs for meals?

Approved emergency child care programs that were previously enrolled in the Department of Early and Secondary Education (DESE) Child and Adult Care Food Program must notify their DESE consultant of their emergency approval in order to continue serving meals. Many community partners are also working to make meals available to children. Project Bread and the Department of Early and Secondary Education have partnered to map and share information on meal options:

Who decides who receives the emergency care? And how quickly?

Parents will contact programs directly using EEC’s directory. Emergency childcare providers, with guidance from the EEC regional office, will make decisions about care based on the needs of the families that apply. Parents will get quick answers directly from the approved emergency child care programs after reviewing their particular circumstances with the childcare provider.

Can I use a babysitter or nanny?

Families should make their own decisions about how to best accomplish social distancing for their children. EEC does not approve individual babysitters or nannies for family use.

How far in advance can parents reserve emergency child care slots?

Please work directly with individual programs to understand how far in advance you may reserve child care. We encourage programs to support essential workers by helping parents plan for the availability of care. Existing families that are paying to receive child care through a non-emergency program may not receive emergency child care unless you waive their existing fees or unless you have specific approval of EEC.

What happens if a family need to be reauthorized for subsidy during the state of emergency?

EEC is working to provide an automated process for those who require reauthorization during the state of emergency. More information is coming soon.