Supporting 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. Dial 2-1-1 to speak to an Information and Referral Specialist. Taking care of everyday needs is the first step in building a strong foundation for your family.
Quickly find the resources you need most. Some of the commonly requested needs include the following:
- Finding child care
- Paying for child care
- Parenting support
- Financial support with clothing and other necessities
- Maryland’s Children’s Health Insurance Program
- Women, Infants and Children
- Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) formerly called Food Stamps
- Child support assistance/enforcement
Find Child Care
LOCATE: Child Care is a free, confidential referral service to help you find the best local child care provider. The service can help with center-based care facilities, private kindergarten, private nursery schools, Head Start, school-age and after-school programs.
Call 1-877-261-0060 Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. To save time, complete an online intake form and a LOCATE: Child Care referral specialist will call you back within three business days.
Once you get a list of local child care facilities, call the providers and ask about their program. You may ask about the provider/child ratio, if they serve meals and snacks, hours of operation and if parents can observe play online or at specific times.
Then, plan a site visit and see how the teachers/providers/staff are interacting with children, the cleanliness, 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.
These 211 searches also provide child care resources.
Paying For Child Care
If you need help paying for child care, the Child Care Scholarship (CCS) offers support to income-qualified working families. You may also know it as its former name, Child Care Subsidy. View the latest income qualifications for families to receive child care payment assistance.
You will need to verify you have a job, attend school or an approved job training program, verify pay stubs or approved activity, provide proof of all other income including child support, prove your identity and verify your address.
Download an application to apply for financial support with child care. You can also call 1-877-227-0125 for help with the application.
There may be additional resources available in your county as well. For example, the Working Parents Assistance Program (WPA) is private-public fund, run by volunteers, that provides child care subsidies to eligible families in Montgomery County.
Search the 211 database for support with child care expenses.
Head Start And Family Support
Head Start provides services for children from birth to age 5.
Early Head Start (EHS) programs provide child development and care programs for children under age 3, and pregnant women.
Head Start also offers family support programs that focus on the relationship and bond between parent and child or child and caregiver. Find a Head Start Center near you.
Maryland’s Family Support Centers also help families with children up to age three. Many of them have integrated Early Head Start (EHS) centers. The focus is on the child and the parent with job readiness skills, helping parents build social networks and strengthening parenting skills.
Find a local Family Support Center or search the 211 database for all early childhood education.
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.
Maryland Infants and Toddlers program also breaks down milestones and developmental red flags by age so you can identify delays and request an evaluation if you believe your child needs support or you’re referred for support with speech/language, physical therapy, or occupational therapy.
If you have questions about your child’s development, the Maryland Infants and Toddlers Program can evaluate your child and provide family intervention services and support for children who qualify for the program. 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.
Parents can refer themselves to this 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.
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.
You can also create an account with the state program and make a referral online or reach out to a local Infants and Toddlers program near you and request an evaluation.
If your child is age 3 through 5, the local school system offers educational support to children who qualify. The Preschool Special Education Services Program supports disabilities like autism, deafness, blindness, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, emotional disability, intellectual impairment, developmental delays and more. See the full eligibility list.
Contact your local Child Find office for an assessment.
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.
Clothing, Food And Financial Support
There are also resources available for emergency or temporary financial needs. Call 2-1-1 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.
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.
There are also many nonprofit organizations in each community that provide emergency financial support. You can find them by calling 2-1-1 or searching for local resources in your county.
These are some common requests, and resources available throughout Maryland.
Once you find resources to help with basic needs, you can strengthen the understanding of your child’s needs.
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.
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.
If you need to talk to someone, help is available 24/7/365. Dial 2-1-1. Press 1 for immediate support with mental health concerns.
You can also call The Family Tree 24-hour Parenting HelpLine at 1-800-243-7377 for free and confidential advice, community resources and support for parents and families.
You can also search for resources in the 211 database.
Child Abuse And Neglect
If you suspect abuse or neglect, report it to law enforcement or the local Department of Social Services. Reports can be anonymous.
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.
Get children the support they need, and report suspected cases of abuse or neglect.