Child Care Planning: 

Access to high quality, affordable child care is critical to your ability to complete your degree. Below you will find information to help you understand the types of child care available, how to search for child care, and how to find funding for child care.  

Making a plan for your child care needs is the first step in making sure you are set up for success in your academic program. Your child care plan should address when you are most likely to need care as well as what you’ll do on days that you don’t have child care – like when your provider is closed, and UMass is open, or when your child is sick. We recommend working out a child care plan that takes into consideration the following:

  • What times/days will I need child care during the academic year? Summer?
  • How much child care will I need to be able to attend classes AND have time for studying/research/writing?
  • Are class hours or hours I’ll be teaching/conducting research/participating in study groups within typical child care center hours?  If not, what other options do I have for child care?
  • Is the child care provider’s calendar different from my UMass calendar? Will I have classes on days that the child care provider is closed?
  • What do I do if my child is sick and needs to stay home? How/when will I communicate with faculty if I need to miss a class or need extra time to submit an assignment when my child is sick?

Your child care plan over the course of your degree may include a mix of licensed center- or home-based care, informal care, family/friends/neighbors care, summer programs, after/before school programs, and possibly recreational programs as well. 

Contact for help with your child care plan.

Child Care Search:

You child care needs may be a mix of licensed and informal care providers. See below for more information about the types of care you may be looking for and how to begin your search.

Licensed child care:

Licensed child care offers some assurances of quality and safety for you and your child. In MA, state licensure (through the MA Department of Early Education and Care) means: 

  • Programs must be healthy, safe, and offer activities that help your child develop and grow; 
  • Providers have training in first aid and are CPR certified; 
  • Providers have specialized training in child development, and curriculum implementation; 
  • All employees are required to undergo a criminal background check;  
  • Programs must maintain appropriate ratios of teachers to children.  

There are 3 types of MA licensed child care choices to consider: Family or Home-Based child care, Group or Center-based child care, and School-Aged child care. You can find out more information about the types of child care and tips for what to look for in a child care provider here

Looking for on-campus licensed child care? 

Center for Early Education and Care (CEEC) The Center for Early Education and Care (CEEC) has provided quality child care services to the University community for almost 40 years. 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. Subsidized care is available based on income eligibility. The center serves undergraduate and graduate student families, staff and faculty families, and families of the local community. 

For more information or to request an enrollment application call the CEEC office at (413) 545-1566.

Looking for off-campus licensed child care?

Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) Child Care Search : MA has an easy-to-use, free, searchable childcare database of over 1,500 state licensed programs in MA, including child care centers, family child care, and school-age programs. You can use their comprehensive database to filter results by age, location, facility type, pick-up and drop off times, and more criteria. You may need to experiment with the criteria you enter in order to broaden or narrow your search results into a helpful list. 

We recommend using “radius” for your search, entering in the address that you want your care provider to be near, and then choosing the number of miles you would be willing to travel. Persistence really does pay off when you are looking for child care. Be sure to get on a number of wait lists – and don’t be put off if you hear of a long waitlist. It can feel like a lot – but it will pay off eventually. Once you enter your search parameters, you have the option to click the button, “download your results," which will generate a spreadsheet with the providers who met your search criteria. Download your list and start making calls to see if there are openings and if not, to be placed on their waiting list. 

Recommendation from student parent experiences: When calling child care centers, be sure to follow-up weekly or bi-weekly to try to secure a spot for your child. 

MOST CENTERS OFFER SOME KIND OF FINANCIAL AID and the earlier you apply, the more likely it is that you will receive it. Be sure to ask about financial aid when looking for child care. 

Community Action Pioneer Valley Head Start & Early Learning Programs  are federally-funded programs for income-eligible families with children aged 0-5.  You can find out more about their center-based childcare options here.  The centralized online application for their childcare programs can be found here.  You can always call their friendly staff to learn more: 413-387-1250.


Contact for help finding off campus child care.

Informal child care options:

Informal care is a child care option that can help fill in the gaps when your child care needs fall outside of traditional daycare or school hours or when only a small number of hours are needed each week. 

Some students have been able to collaborate with other student parents to “share” sitters or to trade off in providing care to each other’s kids. Building a network of other parenting students can help expand your options for care. 

Some students are able to rely on family members for child care. See here for some great tips on how to make relative care work for you – it's not always as easy as it seems! 

Looking for a babysitter?

UMass Student Job Board Any family looking for local babysitting services may advertise with the UMass Student Employment Office for free. Families can also advertise at employment offices of other local colleges and high schools. Many libraries and YMCAs also offer babysitter training programs and they, too, can be contacted for assistance.

Safety: Before leaving your child in the care of someone else, it is important to have a clear idea of your family’s care needs, as well as clear expectations for your care provider. There are many online sources that can provide you with sitter guidelines, such as this fact sheet prepared by the University of Michigan. Families desiring more thorough background checks on potential adult babysitters may choose to request that the sitter provide results of a criminal background check through the Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system.

For information about funding for child care expenses, check out the Apply for Child Care Assistance tab