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Supportive Child Care - Massachusetts

A supportive child care subsidy is available to children with an open protective case with the Department of Social Services (DSS). An open protective case exists when a report has substantiated allegations of abuse or neglect of a child within the 12 months prior to referral for subsidized care, or when there is a determination of need to begin or continue supportive services at a DSS Progress, Supervisory, or Foster Care Review.

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), in conjunction with the Department of Social Services (DSS), procures high quality, comprehensive Supportive Child Care services for families and children who have open cases with DSS. The services are designed to meet the needs of families that are experiencing a high degree of stress and disorganization. Children served by DSS may experience developmental delays, inconsistent attention to health needs, attachment problems, post traumatic stress symptoms from sexual and/or physical assault or witnessing domestic violence, poor social skills, psychiatric disorders, behavior management problems, depression, and poor self esteem, as well as poor educational and academic performance.

Supportive Child Care services consist of high quality, comprehensive educational and developmentally appropriate activities, augmented by health and nutritional services, case management, social services and transportation between child care and home or school when appropriate to support the childís placement.

DSS refers children living at home or children in foster care (who have been the subject of a supported 51A) for Supportive Child Care to promote their growth and development and to protect their health and well-being. Supportive Child Care may also allow families to remain intact by preventing or assisting in a childís return home.

Supportive Child Care providers assess a child's emotional and developmental needs and provide family supports. The provider emphasizes strengthening the family and utilizes an array of community resources to promote the healthy development of all children.

Supportive Child Care is provided on a closed referral basis. Only the Department of Social Services or its designee (a Family Based Services Lead Agency) may refer children to care.

Supportive Child Care is used in a transitional, time-limited manner in order to stabilize the family and ensure the safety and well being of the child, consistent with DSSís mandate to provide protective services.



DSS or its designee will determine eligibility of its clients for supportive child care services.


The supportive child care subsidy will be authorized by DSS for a maximum of 6 months, and may be renewed by DSS for a second 6 month period. Unless approved by the DSS Area Director, authorization for supportive services may not be renewed more than once.

Fee Assessment

DSS will determine whether applicable parent fees should be waived.

Referral or Waitlisting

DSS or its designee will determine the appropriateness of and authorize all referrals for supportive child care, and may either: (a) refer the parent to a contracted provider with supportive child care openings appropriate to the age and needs of the child, or (b) enter the child on a waitlist for care, if there are no appropriate openings available.

Information Sharing

DSS or its designee will share information with the child care provider regarding the childís behavior and the familyís psychosocial history to assist the provider in meeting the needs of the child and family.


The parent must meet with the contracted provider to complete the enrollment process in accordance with the providerís policies and procedures.

Termination of Supportive Child Care Services

Supportive Child Care Services will end when the protective case closes, or when DSS determines that services are no longer appropriate, whichever first occurs.

Appeal of Termination

Parents wishing to appeal the termination of Supportive Child Care Services may do so through the DSS Fair Hearing Process, in accordance with DSS policy and regulation.

Additional Information

The Department of Social Service (DSS) is the Massachusetts state agency charged with the responsibility of protecting children from child abuse and neglect. To report abuse or neglect, call the Child-at-Risk Hotline anytime of the day or night at 1-(800)-792-5200.

A substantial variety of information on child abuse and neglect, including guides for parents and others, definitions, warning signs, and an explanation about how the Department of Social Services programs operate in response to reports of child abuse and neglect is available on their website at:

See also

Child Care - Overview - Massachusetts

Child Care - Program Types - Massachusetts

Child Care - Frequently Asked Questions - Massachusetts

Child Care - Acronyms, Abbreviations, and Definitions - Massachusetts

Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&R) - Massachusetts


102 CMR 10.00: Department of Early Education and Care, from PDF document (requires Adobe Acrobat) at:

P-EEC-Supportive-01, Department of Early Education and Care, from PDF document (requires Adobe Acrobat) at:

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