Resources For Children And Families  

211 supports parents and families with essential needs, including but not limited to housing, employment, health insurance, energy assistance, food, and more.

Find resources by searching for help in our comprehensive database, calling 2-1-1, or connecting directly with the top resources for children and families.

Taking care of everyday needs is the first step in building a strong foundation for your family. 211 can help you take that step. 

Daughter holding a painting of her family with her parents next to her

Call 2-1-1

Get connected to community resources and support 24/7/365.

Find Child Care: LOCATE

Call 1-877-261-0060

LOCATE is a service in Maryland that can help you find a child care provider and let you know about the child care scholarship qualifications. You can reach LOCATE Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Through the LOCATE: Child Care program, the Maryland Family Network connects families to child care providers and financial assistance for those who qualify. It's a free and confidential program.

LOCATE can help you find center-based care facilities, private Kindergarten, private nursery schools, Head Start, special needs services, and school-age and after-school programs.

The organization also has Family Resource Specialists who can help you apply for the child care scholarship.

How to connect with LOCATE

You can use LOCATE services by:

  • Searching for a provider through LOCATE: Child Care
  • Calling 1-877-261-0060 Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. to talk with a Family Resource Specialist about child care servcies and the child care scholarship. If you have a special needs child, call 1-800-999-0120.
  • Completing an online intake form and a LOCATE: Child Care referral specialist will call you back within three business days.

If you're also wondering how you will pay for child care, you may be eligible for a Head Start program or the Child Care Scholarship. Learn more about paying for child care.

Questions to ask a child care provider

Once you get a list of local child care facilities, call the providers and ask questions about their program. You may ask about:

  • the provider/child ratio
  • if they serve meals and snacks
  • hours of operation
  • if parents can observe play online or at specific times

Then, plan a site visit and see how the teachers/providers/staff interact with children, look at the site's cleanliness and the space and play areas.

Ask for recommendations or talk with other parents in the community to learn more about their experiences at a child care facility.

The Maryland Family Network has a comprehensive list of questions and observations for parents looking for a safe and reliable child care provider.

Head Start

While searching for child care, some of the providers may be Head Start facilities. This program provides services for eligible children from birth to age 5. 

There are two programs - regular Head Start and Early Head Start (EHS). Early Head Start provides child development and care programs for children under age 3 and pregnant women.  

Find a Head Start Center near you. 

Family Support

Head Start also offers family support programs focusing on the relationship and bond between parent and child or child and caregiver.

In some Early Head Start (EHS) centers, you'll find the Maryland Family Support Centers. They help families with children up to age three. The focus is on the child and the parent with programs to support:

  • job readiness skills
  • helping parents build social networks
  • strengthening parenting skills

The services are free to eligible families. Find a local Family Support Center. 

211 Can Also Help

211 understands it can be confusing to navigate resources. Our trained resource specialists can also connect you to child care support. You can call 2-1-1 or search the comprehensive resource database. These are some of the top searches.

Two children playing with toys

Paying For Child Care with a scholarship

We understand child care can be expensive. There are several ways to get financial help paying for child care.

The Child Care Scholarship (CCS) helps eligible families pay for child care and early education programs. You may also know it by names such as the Child Care Subsidy, Purchase of Care Voucher or Subsidy Voucher.

It provides a yearly voucher. Families may also have a co-payment of between $0 and $3 per week. You may also have additional fees to cover the child's tuition.

Scholarships are available to eligible families with:

  • a child younger than 13 years old, or
  • an individual 13-19 years old with a qualifying disability

You can view an eligibility checklist and answer a series of yes and no questions to find out if you qualify for the scholarship. You can also view the latest income guidelines from the Maryland State Department of Education.

Applications are completed through the Child Care Scholarship Family Portal. You will have to submit documentation. Completed applications are processed within three business days.

Working Parents Assistance (WPA) Program

There may be additional resources available in your county as well. For example, the Working Parents Assistance Program (WPA) is a private-public fund run by volunteers that provides child care subsidies to eligible families in Montgomery County.  

The WPA program offers a slightly higher maximum income qualification, enabling more people to qualify for financial support. The Montgomery County Government website details the Working Parents Assistance Program and the eligibility guidelines.

If you're ready to apply, fill out an application for WPA in English or in Spanish.  

Search the 211 database for support with child care expenses. 

Child Development And Early Intervention

Parents play an important role in a child’s development. You can track your child’s milestones from age 2 months to 5 years old with the Centers for Disease Control Milestone Tracker app. You can also keep track of your child’s doctors’ appointments, and receive tips and activities to enhance child development. Download it for Apple or Android. 

These programs help with child development for children who qualify:

  • Maryland Infants and Toddlers - developmental screenings and services for birth to 3 years old
  • Child Find - 3-21 years old for children with disabilities or special needs

You can learn about the services offered by these programs below.

Speech therapist working with a child

Maryland Infants and Toddlers

The Maryland Infants and Toddlers program helps parents help their kids reach milestones and development goals by breaking down what you can expect at every age. With the Maryland Infants and Toddlers milestone chart, you can select your child's age and quickly see the milestones and the red flags to watch for with your child's development.

If you have questions about your child’s development or suspect a delay, the Maryland Infants and Toddlers Program can help. You can request an evaluation of your child. The free service supports qualifying children under three years of age who meet program guidelines. 

A child may be eligible for the free early intervention program if the delay is greater than 25% in one or more areas, the child demonstrates atypical development or behavior or has a qualifying diagnosed condition.  

The early intervention program can provide services for children until three years of age. These may include:

  • speech/language services
  • physical therapy
  • occupational therapy

Early intervention services help children have a better chance of achieving their full potential. The earlier the services begin, the better. 

More than 68% of children who received early intervention services in Maryland were in general education classes by third grade, according to Maryland Infants and Toddlers. 

Request early intervention help

Parents can refer their children to the Maryland Infants & Toddlers early intervention program, or you may be referred by a health or education provider, child care or social service provider or a staff member from the NICU or hospital. 

You can request an evaluation by:

  1. Creating an account with Maryland Infants and Toddlers
  2. Using your account access to complete a referral

The referral may lead to an evaluation and services for those who qualify.

If you have any questions, you can call your local Infants and Toddlers program, located in counties throughout the state. You may find the office in the Health Department, public school system, Health and Human Services Office or Board of Education.

Child Find

Child Find can help families get support for their child's educational disability or related services. It helps children age 3 through 21.

The local school systems typically handle these programs. There is a preschool program from age 3-5 and the public schools provide services when the child is older.

You can get help with:

  • autism
  • deafness
  • blindness
  • speech or language impairment
  • traumatic brain injury
  • emotional disability
  • intellectual impairment
  • developmental delays

See the full eligibility list. 

You can find one of these programs by searching for Child Find in the 211 database or by calling one of the local providers on this list from Maryland Public Schools.

Resources

Find additional community resources for an individual with disabilities through The Kennedy Krieger Foundation Resource Finder. 

You can also search the 211 database for local educational resources and support services. 

Elementary student getting help from teacher

Financial Support

There are also resources available for emergency or temporary financial needs. Call 211 if you need clothing, diapers or food for your children or help paying a security deposit, rent, or a utility bill. Some programs also help with emergency medication costs 

Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) provide cash assistance to families with dependent children when the family’s needs are not fully met by available resources. The program encourages independence through work.  

Social Services

You can apply at your local Department of Social Services or online through my MDTHINK, Maryland’s gateway to public health and human services.  

Local Social Services agencies can also support families in other ways.  

Many nonprofit organizations in communities throughout Maryland also provide emergency financial support. You can find them by calling 211 or searching for local resources in your county. 

Financial Resources For Families

These are some common requests, and resources available throughout Maryland. 

Caring For A Child

A man playing with his child

Parenting can be enjoyable and challenging all at the same time, especially when you’re dealing with outside stressors in life or challenging behavior. 

Your relationship with your child is critical to their growth. Play is the building block you need to help your young child develop, grow and learn. Act silly, play games, talk to them, read and engage your child. Simple activities go a long way toward nurturing the child-parent relationship and creating a strong bond that will help them succeed in life.  

Parenting HelpLine: 1-8000-243-7377

The Family Tree provides a free and confidential 24-hour parenting helpline in Maryland.

Parenting support

Boys Town has a free email series that tackles specific parenting issues, from teaching love and celebrating diversity, parenting a grade-schooler, grandparenting, tween discipline, toddler tantrums, potty training and more. Sign up for a series and get actionable steps and activities you can take to manage a common parenting issue. 

They also have several free parenting tools on issues like coping with tragedy or crisis, teaching kindness, learning cards and surviving summer with children out of school.  

You can also learn about parenting classes, strengthening the parent-child relationship and creating positive childhood experiences on 211's parenting support page.

Behavioral health concerns and bullying

Mental health concerns - ADHD, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc. - can occur throughout a child's life. Trauma can also trigger some of these concerns.

If you're concerned about your child's mental health, talk to their school counselor or pediatrician and get connected to teen resources and support.

Parents can also connect with the Maryland Coalition of Families for behavioral health and other parenting concerns. They support families and children with training, support groups, peer support and navigation services.

MCF provides parenting workshops for families and virtual and in-person support groups.

MCF's peer support for families helps you navigate services and systems. For example, MCF can attend school meetings like an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting to ensure your child receives the services and support they need at school.

They can also help with family issues, including mental health (any age), substance use, gambling and youth involved with the Department of Juvenile Services. Talk with someone with a shared experience who understands what you’re going through.

MCF can also attend court with a family and be a helpful resource during the process.

Want to learn more? Get information on helping your child manage their emotions and other ways to support your child while managing challenging behaviors on 211's child behaviors resource page.

Kinship Caregiver Support

There are also support programs for caregivers, whether through the kinship program or foster care. If you're caring for someone else's child in your home 24/7, you may be a kinship family and not know it. You may qualify for benefits and support through Maryland's kinship programs.

211 also has a texting program that connects you to resources and support. You'll receive periodic text messages from MDKinCares.

Sign up by texting MDKinCares to 898211.

How 211 supports families

211 also provides support to families. Call 211 any time of day or night.

You can also search for resources in the 211 database related to adoption, foster care, parenting, childbirth, mentoring and kinship. 

Changing A Baby or Child in Public

Finding an accessible facility to change a diaper or provide personal care to an older child or adult is available through a statewide list of facilities.

Public buildings like airports, bus stations, recreation centers and parks must add universal changing facilities when they add a new public building or add or renovate an existing public restroom. This law took effect for construction after October 2022.

To find a changing facility, view the list of locations in Maryland.

Universal changing table
Courtesy: Prince George's County Department of Parks and Recreation

Child Abuse And Neglect

We all play a role in reporting potential child abuse or neglect. If you suspect abuse or neglect, report it to law enforcement or the local Department of Social Services.

So, what are the signs? You can also see if the individual(s) you're concerned about has any of these signs of physical abuse or neglect. You can also watch this video about the signs of child abuse or neglect from the Maryland Department of Human Services.

CPS PSA Know the signs from DHS Communications on Vimeo.

Reporting Child Abuse or Neglect

Reports can be anonymous, but the report must include:

  • name and home address of the child and parent or other individual responsible for the child's care
  • present location of the child
  • approximate age of the child
  • names and ages of other children in the home
  • information on the injuries or sexual abuse or neglect
  • any information on previous possible physical or sexual abuse or neglect
  • the identity of the individual(s) responsible for the abuse or neglect

Learn about the potential signs of abuse and neglect and the removal of children from the home.  

Abuse and neglect are Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). These stressful and traumatic events can impact a child’s development and cause health problems throughout life. Research shows a strong correlation to ACEs and substance misuse and behavioral problems. Community support is available to help children through trauma and stress.

Get children the support they need, and report suspected cases of abuse or neglect.  

Find Resources