Please join us every fall for our EEC Open House to meet and talk with local Early Education & Care Providers! Click here to read the brochure from our Fall 2019 Open House, including a listing of providers who attended and information on Natick provider who were not able to attend that evening.
The Child Care Resource & Referral Agency for Natick is Child Care Resources in Fitchburg, Worcester and Milford:
The MA Dept. of Early Education & Care provides grant funding for regional Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&R). Your local CCR&R agency keeps information on all licensed and licensed-exempt programs including child care centers, family child care providers, preschools, and out of school time programs. A search can be tailored to your specific need and consultation provided on how to look for quality child care. Additional data such as age-specific vacancies, special services, financial assistance options and parenting information is also available. Click here to download a great Child Care Resource Guide for parents, from our region’s CCR&R, Seven Hills Foundation.
Income-Eligible Childcare Info
http://www.mass.gov/edu/birth-grade-12/early-education-and-care/financial-assistance/financial-assistance-for-families/ is the Massachusetts Department of Early Education & Care’s web page about financial assistance for child care.
Mass 2-1-1 is a resource for all Massachusetts families and individuals, and can assist with enrollment in the MA child care assistance program:
Head Start and Early Head Start are free early childhood programs for pregnant women and for children from birth to age 5. These programs help children from low-income families get a healthy start and become ready for school. Head Start is a free pre-school program for 3-5 year-old children from low-income families. Early Head Start serves pregnant women, infants, and toddlers.
Types of Child Care
These centers provide separate programs for different ages of children. Many offer part-time or full-time child care, and most operate year-round to accommodate working parents.
Children are usually grouped according to age:
- Infant/Toddler: birth through two years and nine months old.
- Nursery Schools, Preschools, and Pre-K: two years and nine months old to kindergarten.
- SMOC Headstart and Childcare: infants through five years old whose families receive public assistance, children with a disability, and low-income families.
A list of currently licensed centers in Natick can be found at the EEC website where you can enter a zipcode or town name to search.
Family Home Child Care
Family child care is delivered in a provider’s home. Children in a family child care home may range in age from infant through school age and programs may serve between a maximum of six or ten children (with an additional assistant).
Many are members of the Natick Family Child Care Association, which provides a listing of current family home providers at: www.natickfamilychildcareassociation.com
The NFCCA is a professional association of licensed family daycare providers in Natick. Members collaborate to offer referrals for family placement, professional development, and mutual support.
A list of currently licensed family home child care providers in Natick can be found at the EEC website where you can enter a zipcode or town name to search.
The Natick Public Schools offer a preschool program, the Natick Preschool, which is now located at the new Natick High School campus at 15 West Street. (The former name was the Hand-In-Hand Integrated Preschool.) For 3- and 4-year-olds, this is a district-wide integrated preschool program which provides programming for children with special needs as well as community children.
Preschools typically operate on the school year schedule, and serve children age 2 years, 9 months (some as young as 2) up through PreK. Some offer summer programs and many have early and late hours beyond the school day. Some are operated in a Family Home Child Care environment, but use a preschool curriculum. Several private schools in Natick and surrounding towns also have PreK programs.
A list of currently licensed preschools in Natick can be found at the EEC website where you can enter a zipcode or town name to search.
After School Care
Many families face a need for after school care once their children start formalized pre-school or kindergarten. In Natick there are several options.
Natick Public Schools: If your child is attending a local elementary or middle school, after-school care is offered by NPS and other organizations in the area. Natick elementary schools also offer an Early Risers program. For more information on these programs please visit: www.natickps.org/districtinfo/afterschoolactivities/main.cfm
There are also private home day cares that will take after school students; you can purchase a bus pass for your school age student to be able to take the bus from school to these locations as well. Visit this website for a list of options and availability: http://natickfamilychildcare.vpweb.com/About-Us.html
What to look for on your visit:
- The EEC license!
- Space is clean and inviting.
- You can imagine your child learning and having fun.
- Activity level in the program matches your child’s personality.
- Behavior management policies of the program are compatible with your parenting philosophy.
- Daily routine includes indoor and outdoor play and a mix of active and quiet activities.
- Teachers are qualified to work with children and are warm and welcoming.
- Snacks and meals (if provided) are well balanced and nutritious.
- Parents are invited to play an active role.
- Staff engages children in activities and conversation.
- Books and toys match the age of the children.
Questions to think about when interviewing prospective care providers:
- Is your program EEC licensed or authorized as license exempt?
- Do you have any other credentials such as accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children or National Association of Family Child Care?
- What is your educational background and experience?
- Do you hold a Child Development Associate Certificate (CDA) or early childhood or related field degree?
- Do you have any openings?
- What hours are you open?
- What are the ages of the other children my child would be grouped with?
- What is the ratio of adults to children?
- Are there holidays or other dates that the program closes?
- Do you offer part-time or flexible care?
- What backup care is provided in case of provider illness?
- What activities would my child experience?
- How will you accommodate my child with special needs?
- How will you accommodate my child with allergies?
- What is your policy when a child is ill?
- Do you have a written discipline policy?
- What type of indoor and outdoor activities do you provide?
Communicate with caregivers! Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions, set rules, and demand a lot. After all, the caregiver you choose is taking care of someone very special to you. It is important to communicate with child care providers about your child. Let them know about your child’s personality, likes and dislikes, medical needs, eating and sleeping habits, and other information that will help them get to know and interact with your child. Make sure you check in with them regularly to ask about how your child interacts with other children, how he/she behaves, and what he/she is doing.
If you are looking for a preschool, please join us every fall for our “Choosing a Preschool” Workshop where we will discuss the various types of preschools in our community and what to look for to meet your family’s needs!
The EEC License means:
- Programs must be healthy, safe, and offer activities focused on child development.
- Providers have training in first aid and are CPR certified.
- Providers have specialized training in child development and curriculum implementation.
- All employees undergo a criminal background check.
- Programs must maintain appropriate ratios of teachers to children.
To search for currently licensed child care options, you can search the EEC website here: http://www.eec.state.ma.us/ChildCareSearch/EarlyEduMap.aspx
To learn more about accreditation agencies visit their websites:
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
The NAEYC Academy sets and monitors standards for high-quality early childhood education programs and accredits programs that meet these standards. They are the world’s largest organization working on behalf of young children.
National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC)
The National Association for Family Child Care is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting quality child care by strengthening the profession of family child care. They strive to promote a professional accreditation program which recognizes and encourages quality care for children.