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General Laws

Section 1A. As used in this chapter, the following words shall, unless the context requires otherwise, have the following meanings:—

“Adoption”, the establishment of the legal relationship of parent and child pursuant to chapter 210.

“Board”, the board of early education and care.

“Child”, any person under the age of 18 or under the age of 22 if that person is a child with special needs.

“Child with special needs”, a child who, because of temporary or permanent disabilities arising from intellectual, sensory, emotional, physical, or environmental factors, or other specific learning disabilities, is or would be unable to progress effectively in a regular school program.

“Child care center”, a facility operated on a regular basis whether known as a child nursery, nursery school, kindergarten, child play school, progressive school, child development center, or preschool, or known under any other name, which receives children not of common parentage under 7 years of age, or under 16 years of age if those children have special needs, for nonresidential custody and care during part or all of the day separate from their parents. Child care center shall not include: any part of a public school system; any part of a private, organized educational system, unless the services of that system are primarily limited to kindergarten, nursery or related preschool services; a Sunday school conducted by a religious institution; a facility operated by a religious organization in which children are cared for during short periods of time while persons responsible for the children are attending religious services; a family child care home; an informal cooperative arrangement among neighbors or relatives; or the occasional care of children with or without compensation.

“Child of working parents”, a child of a 2-parent family in which both parents work either full-time or part-time, or a child of a single-parent family in which the parent works either full-time or part-time.

“Commissioner”, the commissioner of early education and care.

“Curriculum frameworks”, curriculum frameworks established under section 1E of chapter 69.

“Department”, the department of early education and care.

“Early education and care program”, a public or privately sponsored non-residential program, which provides for the care and education of school-aged children when not attending school, or infants, toddlers, or preschool children by someone other than members of the child’s family, and which involves and supports the child’s parents or guardians and is appropriate to the development of the child, including: in-home care, homemaker services, family child care homes, group child care homes, large family child care homes, full-day child care centers, part-day preschool programs and nursery schools, private kindergartens, mental health consultation and intervention programs, or temporary shelter care programs and programs which offer night care.

“Family child care home”, a private residence which, on a regular basis, receives for temporary custody and care during part or all of the day, children under 7 years of age, or children under 16 years of age if those children have special needs, and receives for temporary custody and care for a limited number of hours children of school age under regulations adopted by the board. The total number of children under 16 in a family child care home shall not exceed 6, including participating children living in the residence. Family child care home shall not mean a private residence used for an informal cooperative arrangement among neighbors or relatives, or the occasional care of children with or without compensation.

“Family child care system”, a person who, through contractual arrangement, provides to family child care homes, which have been approved as members of that system, central administrative functions including, but not limited to: training of operators of family child care homes; technical assistance and consultation to operators of family child care homes; inspection, supervision, monitoring and evaluation of family child care homes; referral of children to available family child care homes; and referral of children to available health and social services. Family child care system shall not mean a placement agency or a child care center.

“Family foster care”, substitute parental care in a family given in a private residence for up to 6 children under 18 years of age on a regular, 24-hour-a-day, residential basis by anyone other than a relative by blood or marriage, but the care may be provided for more than 6 children, provided that such placement is approved by the commissioner of the department of children and families, in order to place siblings in the same residence.

“Group care facility”, a facility which provides care and custody for 1 or more children under 18 years of age, on a regular, 24-hour-a-day, residential basis by anyone other than a relative by blood or marriage, notwithstanding that the care may include educational instruction. Private schools shall be considered group care facilities only if the schools provide special services to children with special needs. Group care facility shall not mean family foster care, a hospital, ward or comprehensive center licensed under section 19 of chapter 19, a hospital, ward or comprehensive center operated by the commonwealth or any subdivision thereof, a hospital, institution for unwed mothers, convalescent or nursing home, rest home, or infirmary licensed under chapter 111, or any facility operated under chapter 123. Group care facility shall not be limited to a facility defined as a group residence under the state building code.

“Large family child care home”, a private residence which, on a regular basis, receives for temporary custody and care during part, or all of the day, children under 7 years of age, or children under 16 years of age if such children have special needs, and receives for temporary custody and care for a limited number of hours children of school age under regulations promulgated by the board, but the number of children under the age of 16 in a large family child care home shall not exceed 10, including participating children living in the residence. A large family child care home shall have at least 1 approved assistant when the total number of children participating in child care exceeds 6. Large family child care home shall not mean a private residence used for an informal cooperative arrangement among neighbors or relatives, or the occasional care of children with or without compensation.

“Local early education and care council”, a locally directed council approved under guidelines adopted by the board and comprised of local representatives from public and non-public schools, community based providers of early education and care programs and services, families being served locally by the department, and other persons with experience in the care and education of young children or in the administration and support of early education and care programs and services.

“Massachusetts universal pre-kindergarten program”, the program of voluntary, universally accessible early education and care programs and services for preschool-aged children, established in section 13.

“Mixed system”, any person providing early education and care including, but not limited to, public, private, non-profit and for-profit preschools, child care centers, nursery schools, preschools operating within public and private schools, Head Start programs and independent and system affiliated family child care homes.

“Person”, an individual, partnership, corporation, association, organization or trust or any department, agency or institution of the federal government or of the commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof.

“Placement agency”, a department, agency or institution of the commonwealth, or any political subdivision thereof, or any organization incorporated under the laws of the commonwealth, 1 of whose principal purposes is providing custodial care and social services to children, which receives by agreement with a parent or guardian, by contract with a state agency or as a result of referral by a court of competent jurisdiction, any child under 18 years of age for placement in family foster care or a group care facility, except that for the purposes of adoption placement, a “placement agency” shall be a department, agency or institution of the commonwealth, or any political subdivision thereof, or any organization incorporated under chapter 180, 1 of whose principal purposes is providing custodial care and social services to children, which receives by agreement with a parent or guardian, by contract with a state agency or as a result of referral by a court of competent jurisdiction, any child under the age of 18 years of age for placement in adoption.

“Preschool-aged”, a person between the age of 2 years and 9 months and the age the person becomes eligible for kindergarten in the city or town wherein such person resides.

“Public preschool programs”, early education and care programs and services provided to preschool-aged children by public school districts organized under chapters 15, 69 and 71.

“Regional child care resource and referral agency”, a regionally-based organization which provides a range of services to promote access to high-quality early education and care for families and children.

“School-aged child care program”, a program or facility operated on a regular basis which provides supervised group care for children not of common parentage who are enrolled in kindergarten and are of sufficient age to enter first grade the following year, or an older child who is not more than 14 years of age, or not more than 16 years of age if the child has special needs. Such a program may operate before and after school and may also operate during school vacation and holidays. It shall provide a planned daily program of activities that is attended by children for specifically identified blocks of time during the week, usually over a period of weeks or months. A school-aged child care program shall not include: a program operated by a public school system; a part of a private, organized educational system, unless the services of that system are primarily limited to a school-aged child care program; a Sunday school or classes for religious instruction conducted by a religious organization where the children are cared for during short periods of time while persons responsible for those children are attending religious services; a family child care home, except as provided under large family child care home; an informal cooperative arrangement among neighbors or relatives; or the occasional care of children with or without compensation.

“Services”, developmental, preventative, protective, recreational, or rehabilitative services for children including, but not limited to, services to children with special needs, services to assist parents in child nurturing and family living, and information and referral services. These services may be delivered through public or privately funded non-residential programs.

“Temporary shelter facility”, a facility which operates to receive children under 18 years of age for temporary shelter during the day or night when those children request shelter, or when children are placed there by a placement agency, a law enforcement agency or a court with authority to make such placement. Temporary shelter facility shall not mean family foster care or a group care facility, a police station or a town lockup.

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