Accessing Licensed Child Care Services
In Massachusetts there are two types of licensed child care providers:
1) center-based or group care providers within a designated facility,
2) family-based childcare services delivered in the provider's home.
Teacher to child ratios are regulated by the state and hours may vary from part to full time depending on the individual program. In each type of program, children are usually grouped according to age: Infant/toddler: birth – 2 years 9 months old; Preschool: 2 years 9 months old - 5 years.
On Campus Child Care Programs
The Center for Early Education and Care (CEEC) offers full day and flexible schedule early education and care services for toddlers and preschool aged children (ages 15 months through five years) throughout the year. The program is licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs of NAEYC.
Children of CEEC engage in an educational program based on developmentally appropriate practices as delineated by NAEYC and benefit from the professionally trained full-time Teachers, as well as undergraduate student Assistant Teachers, interns, and volunteers. CEEC classrooms utilize the Project Approach curriculum model, conducting in-depth studies of topics that are of interest to the children. Children learn academic knowledge as well as problem-solving, critical thinking, and social skills while engaged in project investigations. Classroom programming supports children's emerging self-concepts and assist them in learning social skills. Teachers work with families to ensure that the curriculum meets the individual needs of each child and reflects the child's home culture in the classroom.
For more information or to request an enrollment application call the CEEC office at (413) 545-1566.
Off Campus Child Care Programs
In the town of Amherst there are nineteen licensed family child care providers, eleven licensed center based programs, and four licensed after school programs.
New England Farm Worker's Council is the designated Child Care Resource and Referral Agency for Hampshire and Franklin Counties and the North Quabbin Regions. Agency staff work one on one with families helping them locate a child care program that meets their family's needs.
Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care is the official state agency for providers of childcare. The department's web site contains a comprehensive state-wide listing of infant, toddler, preschool and K-6 after school care programs. Only EEC licensed programs appear in search results.
Public school sponsored child care programs have different licensing requirements. Families interested in school sponsored care should contact their local school districts directly.
National Association for the Education of Young Children provides a listing of their accredited programs.
The Amherst Regional High School Preschool offers a comprehensive early childhood program with developmentally appropriate curriculum including literacy, math, art, science and drama activities. As a laboratory school for Child Development classes and internships, teachers and selected high school students engage as learning partners with children through play.
UMass Student Employment Office provides an opportunity for families to post their babysitting needs.
There is also a group of UMass students available for babysitting. If you are interested in more information they can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Options for finding a sitter include registering your need at the employment offices of colleges and high schools in your local area.
Child Care Tuition Assistance
The Undergraduate Child Care Tuition Assistance administered by the Office of Family Resources is a program for income-eligible undergraduate student parents. Child care includes, full or part day pre-K, after school care for children enrolled in K-6 programs and camperships. All students are encouraged to apply.
The Graduate Student Senate administers a Graduate Child Care Tuition Assistance program for income-eligible graduate student parents. Child care includes, full or part day pre-K, after school care for children enrolled in K-6 programs and camperships. All students are encouraged to apply.
Faculty and Staff
The Dependent Care Assistance Program allows faculty and staff to pay for dependent care expenses such as day care, nursery schools, and day camps with pre-tax dollars.
The Office of the Provost may have funds available for newly hired, tenured-track faculty to pay for childcare. Check their office for more information.
The Department of Transitional Assistance provides vouchers to pay for child care to those families already receiving funds from the department.
Tuition Assistance is available through Amherst's Community Development Department to income eligible Amherst families in need of day care services. Other cities and towns in the local area may also provide tuition assistance for day care. For comprehensive information and referral in this area parents should access New England Farm Worker's Council, the largest child care resource and referral/voucher child care program in Western Massachusetts.
Child Care Tuition Assistance is available to military families. Active duty members, Department of Defense civilian employees or contractors, and reservists on active duty at all income levels and ranks are eligible. Guardians are also eligible.
U.S. Coast Guard Child Care Subsidy Program is available specifically for Coast Guard families in need of financial assistance for child care.
Children's Enrichment Programs and Recreation
Arts & Events at UMass provides a list and information regarding events offered throughout the year.
Both Boyden and Totman Gymnasiums have pools open for family swim. See their recreation schedule for more information.
Fine Arts Center offers a variety of arts and education programs, including performances for children.
Mullins Center offers public ice skating. See their schedule for more information.
The Special Saturday Morning Series, a program of the Office of Family Resources, is an interactive cultural enrichment program offered once a month during the academic year. The program is open to UMass and Amherst Family Center families with young children, birth to six years, and includes Art Cycles and a family-oriented performance.
Amherst's Leisure Services and Supplemental Education Department (LSSE) has a comprehensive recreation program for individuals, children and families. Scholarships up to 75% of program costs are available on a first come first served basis for eligible families with children ages 3-18 years. LSSE also administers the Wildwood After School Program for children enrolled in Wildwood Elementary School. For more information, regarding offered clubs and sports programs click on the link above. Other communities may offer tuition assistance programs or subsidies similar to that offered by the town of Amherst. Contact your town's recreation department for more information.
Amherst's Public Libraries consist of three branches: Jones Library Inc., located in downtown Amherst, Munson Memorial Library in South Amherst and North Amherst Library. Each site offers storytelling and children's programs. All sites have free family or group passes for activities and museums that can be checked out with a valid library card. In towns other than Amherst these free passes are also likely available. Contact your local library for more information.
Groff Park is a town maintained playground on Mill Lane off Route 116 in South Amherst, it includes swings and slides, a wading pool, a pavilion for picnicking, and lots of open space.
Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Inc. provides environmental education, a resource center with an extensive children's book collection, after school programs and day camps.
Mill River Community Playground is a town maintained playground off Route 63 in North Amherst, it includes swings, slides, an outdoor swimming and wading pool, and a pavilion for picnicking.
War Memorial Park is a town maintained playground and picnic area near the Amherst High School on Triangle Street in Amherst Center. Outdoor swimming and wading pools are operational subject to the town budget, check Amherst Town Hall for availability.
Amherst Family Center, a program of UMass Office of Family Resources, located in downtown Amherst, is open to any Hampshire County or University affiliated family with young children birth to 5 years.
Local Public and Private Schools
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education collects data from schools and districts in the state. You can search for either public or private schools in the city/town near you through their comprehensive database.
Amherst Regional Public Schools include five elementary schools, a middle and high school. Children must be five years old by September 1 to be eligible to enroll for public school kindergarten.
School Age/After School Programs
School Age/After School Programs (also called Extended Day/Out of School Time) is a type of group child care program that serves children five through fourteen years old (or sixteen with disabilities). These programs are generally open before and/or after school and/or during school vacations. Some after school programs in public school buildings are run by private providers and are EEC licensed programs. If this is the case, they will appear in your EEC search results.
UMass Athletics Department hosts several athletic camps, including baseball, lacrosse, soccer, swim, tennis, and more.
Daily Hampshire Gazette annually publishes a special issue of area Pre-K and K through 12 summer camps. Print copy available March 18/19, 2010.
Early Adventures and Adventure Playground is a summer day camp and summer swim lessons offered through the Town of Amherst's Leisure Services and Supplemental Education Department (LSSE). Camps are hosted at public school sites in Amherst and include activities, field trips, and special events. Scholarships are available for all programs on first come first serve basis.
Other area towns also offer summer camp opportunities, check your town's Recreation Department for more information.
Massachusetts Department of Public Health offers a brochure with information and regulations concerning recreational camps for children.