Tips for Navigating Childcare in Massachusetts

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Tips for Navigating Childcare in Massachusetts

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Childcare setting

Are you expecting a baby? Do you or will you need childcare in the future?

You may qualify for free or low cost childcare in Massachusetts but you need to act now.

If you will need childcare after birth, you need to sign up while you are pregnant.

If you need childcare now, do not wait to act.

Follow the steps below to see if you qualify for help and to sign up for childcare, to ensure you get childcare when you need it!

How to Sign Up for Childcare in Massachusetts:

  1. Visit Mass211 or call 2-1-1 or (877) 211-6277 to get started and apply.
    • Seven Hills is also an incredible resource for finding childcare centers.
  2. Identify the childcare center you want to send your child to:
    • Visit 413 Cares and use the filters to find care that works for you
  3. Contact the location you want and ask the following questions*
    • "Do you accept vouchers and subsidies?"
    • "What is your process?"
    • Tell them, “You are (one of) my first choices for childcare.”
    • Get the name of a contact you can continue to reach out to throughout the process. "Who is someone I can check in with during this process?"
    • Fill out paperwork as per the center (Make sure you provide a good mailing or email address to receive any notices. Lack of communication can affect your ability to receive child care).
    • Continue to contact every week to check in and remind them you are still interested
  4. Follow this process for each center you would like to send your child(ren).
Childcare setting with multiple children playing with a ball

*These questions were developed in consultation with local childcare providers.

**Note: if you are seeking childcare outside of your zip code, contacting the center directly may be the only way you can access a slot from the waitlist.

Stay on the Waitlist!

If the contact information you put on the waitlist changes, you must go back to 211 and update your profile information. If a slot opens and your contact information is wrong you will be removed from the waitlist.

If you no longer need a childcare voucher or funding, please go to 211 and remove your name from the waitlist. This will free up the system for others.

If you have questions or need any assistance with this process call 2-1-1 or (877) 211-6277

Once you are in,

you can ask to set up a meeting with the daycare provider so you can see if they're a right fit.

  • You can ask for a location closest to you. 
  • If your child has a disability please make the daycare provider aware. 
  • Stay consistent with paperwork when it's time to reauthorize. 
  • Stay mindful of others who need childcare and the child care provider, make sure paperwork is turned in on time. 

Childcare Right Fit Checklist

Can I see a copy of your policies and procedures?

Can I see a copy of your Emergency Protocols?

Is the environment clean and safe?

Are outlets covered and protected? Are there other hazards?

Is there a safe sleeping area? 

How frequently does the caregiver clean and sanitize the environment?

Is this daycare close to home and easy to get to? (on bus line)

How does the caregiver provider communicate?

Is there a visible First Aid Kit?

How many children are cared for in the classroom?

Does the program serve food and does it meet nutritional standards?

Ask for daycare providers’ contact information to stay connected.

Have all caregivers undergone comprehensive background checks?

How do caregivers react to children's behavior?

Ask for a copy of their learning curriculum.

Is there an app parents can access to see what their kids are up to? (Camera) 

How frequently are kids let outside, and is the area fenced? 

How many daycare providers are there for how many children? 

Click here to check ratio requirements

Is there transportation available?

Childcare, child playing with blocks
Springfield Parent Connections logo
Childcare setting

About Us

Springfield Parent Connections was created to to elevate resident voice in our community.

Nothing about us, without us! Springfield Parent Connections (SPC) is a community advisory council providing local guardians'/parents' perspectives to generate appropriate and accessible resources for families. The SPC works to create a culture of action for a vibrant community that embraces system change. They envision a community where families have appropriate information and immediate access to the resources they need to thrive in a respectful and empowering way.

 The group of parents meet regularly to discuss systemic challenges and barriers in their lives and work together with community partners to identify possible solutions.

As part of this work, the group identified major barriers related to childcare in Massachusetts, their knowledge of the system and its many rules and pitfalls. They created this document with the support of local childcare experts to assist other parents and expecting parents in navigating the system while they also work together to create policy changes that will eliminate those barriers.

Mission: Provide parents’ perspective to help generate appropriate and accessible resources for families to thrive in a vibrant community that embraces relevant system change in the Greater Springfield Region.

Vision: Families have appropriate information and immediate access to the resources they need to thrive without having to jump through unnecessary hoops or or endure patronizing measures.

How we work: We build personal connections and support each other in various aspects of our personal lives to create a culture of action for our community.