Child Care: Choices and Financial Assistance

Child Care: Choices and Financial Assistance

As a parent at home with your child, you know better than anyone how to respond to your child's needs. So what do you do when it comes time to trust your child to someone else? There are many different kinds of early education and care programs to choose from, and selecting an option that meets your personal considerations from the long list of possibilities can be overwhelming.

Where do I start?
The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) has outlined some important factors to weigh when selecting a child care program:

  1. Does the program have an EEC license? The EEC regulates health, safety, and staffing at licensed early education and after school programs. If the program has a license, it means that the program is required to be healthy, safe, and to offer activities that help children develop and grow; educators have training in first aid and are CPR certified; educators have specialized training in child development and curriculum implementation; all employees are required to undergo a criminal background check; and the program maintains an appropriate ratio of teachers to children.
  2. Is the space clean and inviting? Can you imagine your child learning and having fun?
  3. Are the teachers/care providers qualified to work with children? Are they warm and welcoming? Do they engage children in activities and conversation?
  4. Does the activity level in the program match your child's personality? Do books and toys match the age of the children in the program? Does the daily routine include a mix of indoor and outdoor play, and active and quiet activities?
  5. Are snacks and meals well balanced and nutritious?
  6. Do the program's behavior management policies fit with your parenting philosophy?
  7. Are parents invited to play an active role? Are parents allowed to visit at any time?

For more information about the types of child care and education programs, as well as a list of questions to ask prospective care providers, visit the EEC website.

Stay connected and involved. Child care choices don't end with selecting a program; your continued active involvement in the care and education of your child is central to your child's success. The program you select should allow you to feel comfortable engaging with your child's teachers and care providers. You should feel empowered to make the choices that will most benefit your child.

If you are concerned that your child's current care program isn't the right fit, the Collaborative's knowledgable Early Childhood staff can provide help and support in developing stronger relationships with care providers, or finding a setting that better meets your child's needs. See our Parent Programs for more information.

Affordable Care: Financial Assistance
The EEC helps eligible families find and pay for early education and care and out-of-school time programs. As funding for financial assistance is limited, even if you qualify, you may be put on the EEC waitlist until funding is available. The Collaborative can help explain eligibility requirements and the application process, and add your name to the EEC waitlist.

For more information about financial assistance for child care, please contact:

The Early Childhood Support Team
413.586.4900; option 3
earlychildhood@collaborative.org