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Management Bulletin 20-06: COVID-19 Guidance regarding Emergency Childcare Services for Essential Workers and At-Risk Populations

Early Learning and Care Division

Click this link for full reference: https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/ci/mb2006.asp  CA Dept of Ed logo

Subject: COVID-19 Guidance regarding Emergency Childcare Services for Essential Workers and At-Risk Populations

Number: 20-06

Date: April 2020

Expires: June 30, 2020, or until the State of Emergency has ended, whichever occurs first

Authority: Senate Bill 117 (Chapter 3, Statutes of 2020); Executive Order N-33-20; Executive Order N-45-20, Executive Order N-47-20; Welfare and Institutions Code Section 11461.6

Attention: Executive Directions and Program Directors of All Early Learning and Care Programs

Purpose

This Management Bulletin (MB) is to provide guidance to state-subsidized early learning and care (ELC) programs that will continue to provide services to currently-enrolled families or begin to provide, what the California Department of Education (CDE) refers to as, “Emergency Childcare” for essential workers and other populations designated below after the signing of Executive Orders (EO) N-33-20, EO N-45-20, and EO N-47-20.

These are not permanent changes to statute or regulations. These requirements pertaining to enrollment of Emergency Childcare will be in effect through June 30, 2020, or until the State of Emergency has ended, whichever occurs first, unless rescinded sooner or extended by the Legislature or any future EO. All provisions in this MB where June 30, 2020, is referenced as the sunset date are in effect until then, unless this MB is extended, rescinded sooner, or the State of Emergency has ended. As the situation evolves and more information is available, the CDE will issue additional guidance.

The CDE is working with the Administration to identify additional funding to support increased subsidized access to Emergency Childcare.

Background

Education Code (EC) Section 8263(a) sets forth the eligibility and need requirements for families receiving subsidized ELC services. Generally, families must meet one eligibility requirement and one need requirement to be eligible for ELC services.

Education Code Section 8263(b) specifies the priority order for enrolling families. Families with children who are receiving child protective services or are at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation receive first priority for services.

Additionally, EC 8263(h) specifies that a family who is certified as meeting eligibility and need requirements must receive services for not less than 12 months from the certification date, and must not be required to report changes to income or other changes for at least 12 months.

In accordance with EC sections 8227.3, 8262.1, and 8262.2, contractors are authorized to use digital signatures and maintain records electronically, or convert records from a paper format to an electronic format. Please refer to MB 16-02, located at https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/ci/mb1602.asp for additional guidance.

Welfare and Institutions Code Section 11461.6 provides for an Emergency Childcare Bridge Program for Foster Children to be implemented at the discretion of a county by providing a time-limited payment or voucher for childcare for the purpose of stabilizing foster children with families at or following the time of placement.

On March 17, 2020, the Governor signed Senate Bill 117 (Chapter 3, Statutes of 2020), which gives the State Superintendent of Public Instruction the authority to develop and issue directives to address, as necessary, contractual and reporting requirements for Early Learning and Care Division programs impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) during the remainder of the 2019–20 fiscal year.

On March 19, 2020, April 4, 2020, and April 7, 2020, respectively, the Governor issued Executive Orders (EO) N-33-20, EO N-45-20, and EO N-47-20, which in pertinent part during the State of Emergency:

  • Require that all California residents stay at home unless they are considered “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” (essential workers).
  • Define “essential workers,” which can be found at: https://covid19.ca.gov/img/Ess...structureWorkers.pdf.
  • Sustain childcare subsidies for currently enrolled families.
  • Provide that the eligibility requirements for children with parents who are essential workers, as defined above, and children with disabilities and special health care needs whose Individual Education Plans or Individual Family Support Plans include early childhood education services, are waived for non-CalWORKs federal and state subsidized ELC services. This action applies to the following programs: Alternative Payment Program (CAPP), California State Preschool Program (CSPP), General Child Care (CCTR), and Family Child Care Home Education Networks (CFCC).
  • Waive enrollment priorities in Education Code Section 8263(b)(2) and (3), other than prioritizing income-eligible families over families that are not income eligible; and any accompanying regulations, with respect to non-CalWORKs early learning and care services provided to children of essential critical infrastructure workers and children with disabilities or special health care needs whose individualized education programs and individual family support plans include early childhood education services.
  • Waive requirements to allow children enrolling in emergency care as a child at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation to enroll without the need for a written referral from a legal, medical or social services agency.

Require the CDE and the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to jointly develop guidance on the order of prioritization for services, which shall include, but not be limited to, provisions intended to ensure that neglected or abused children who are recipients of child protective services, or children who are at risk of being neglected or abused, retain first priority for services as specified in EC Section 8263(b)(1).

Policy

The CDE is encouraging all programs that can safely remain open or reopen to do so in order to serve essential worker families during this State of Emergency. Contractors who are open should notify current families that they are to shelter in place pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order N-33-20 unless they are classified as an essential worker, or at risk as defined below. Contractors may continue to serve those families that remain in need of childcare, as such families are presumed to need care to perform their essential work.

In addition to serving current families, contractors with CCTR, CSPP, CFCC, and CAPP contracts may enroll new families in Emergency Childcare pursuant to Executive Order N-45-20 and EO N-47-20 and the directives provided in this MB, but only if such families are one of the following:

  • Deemed to be an “essential worker” as defined in this MB
  • At risk populations, including:
    • Children who are receiving child protective services or who have been deemed to be at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation
    • Children eligible through the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children
    • Families experiencing homelessness as defined in Section 11434(a)(2) of Title 42 of the United States Code, known as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
    • Children of domestic violence survivors
  • Families with children with disabilities or special health care needs whose individualized education programs (IEP) and/or individual family support plans (IFSP) include ELC services

New enrollments in Emergency Childcare must be consistent with the instructions in this MB. In addition, 12-month eligibility does not apply except as described in the Directive. Children enrolled in Emergency Childcare pursuant to this MB can only be provided services through June 30, 2020, unless this MB is rescinded sooner or extended.

Providers should serve families in priority order as specified below. If the provider has served the groups listed in this MB and still has space in their program per the group size guidelines, they should consider enrolling private paying essential workers at their discretion. When the state of emergency has been lifted, providers will be expected to resume serving all children receiving subsidies that are currently enrolled that may return to care therefore any arrangement with private paying parents should consider that requirement.

Directive

The CDE is encouraging all programs that can safely remain open or reopen, to do so, in order to serve children currently enrolled in care as well as children provided for in this MB.

Contractors who remain open, or reopen, during the State of Emergency should communicate with their current families that they expect them to remain at home during the shelter-in-place order unless they are an essential worker family. Families who choose to remain in care during this period, or return to care, will be presumed to be essential workers. Contractors may enroll new children in subsidized services through June 30, 2020, as provided below.

Enrolling New Children from At-Risk Populations

Children from families that are part of an at-risk population are eligible to enroll in subsidized Emergency Childcare. At-risk populations include the following:

  • Children who are receiving child protective services or who have been deemed to be at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation
  • Children eligible through the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children
  • Families experiencing homelessness as defined in Section 11434(a)(2) of Title 42 of the United States Code, known as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
  • Children of domestic violence survivors
Enrolling New Children from Essential Worker Families in Emergency Childcare

Children of essential workers are now eligible to enroll in subsidized Emergency Childcare, subject to capacity, if all of the following apply:

  • The family works as an essential worker as defined below. If the family includes a two-parent household, both parents/caregivers must either be essential workers or the other parent must be unable to provide care for the child due to incapacitation
  • The family requires childcare to perform their essential work
  • The family is not able to complete their work remotely
  • The family assets do not exceed $1,000,000

Families who meet these requirements are eligible and may receive Emergency Childcare services through June 30, 2020. Traditional documentation requirements set forth in California Code of Regulations, Title 5 (5 CCR) are waived. Instead, the following application procedures should be used to enroll all new families. Families enrolling as an essential worker must self-certify their income in order to prioritize income eligible families over non-income eligible families.

Enrolling Children with Disabilities or Special Health Care Needs

Contractors may enroll children with disabilities or special health care needs whose IEP and/or IFSP include ELC services. Families must self-certify such status to enroll in Emergency Childcare.

Application Procedures

New families of essential workers that need childcare must apply for Emergency Childcare by completing the COVID-19 2020 Confidential Application for Emergency Childcare Services, and complete the COVID-19 Self-Certification document, located at https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/elcdcovid19.asp. This will be the only documentation required in order to certify the family for services.

The application for Emergency Childcare services and the COVID-19 Self-Certification documentation must be included in the family data file.

To enroll the children of essential workers in an expeditious manner, contractors shall allow for the use of digital signatures, and electronic submission of applications, including supporting documentation, if at all possible. To the extent possible, applications should be reviewed and the family should be certified for Emergency Childcare immediately. Families can be notified of their certification electronically to expedite the process. Families shall only be certified for Emergency Childcare through June 30, 2020.

For additional guidance on the use of digital applications and signatures refer to MBs 16-02 and 17-13.

Hold Harmless for Emergency Childcare Determinations

Early Learning and Care contractors who obtain a signed COVID-19 Self-Certification form shall not be responsible for determining if a parent or guardian’s work is “essential” under State Executive OrderN-33-20, or if a family is part of the “at-risk population” in accordance with this MB, when accepting a child for Emergency Childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic, nor shall they be subject to a penalty for accepting a child whose parent or guardian is determined not to meet those definitions. The state shall hold harmless any ELC contractors that, in good faith, enroll a child whose parent or guardian is determined not to meet those definitions.

Definition and Prioritization

All currently-enrolled families will have the option to stay in care, or return to care, before any new essential worker families are enrolled. Contractors should remind all families of the requirement from the Governor’s Executive Order that all non-essential workers should shelter in place during the state of emergency.

New families who are enrolled, must be enrolled in the following priority order and will be only be certified for Emergency Care through June 30, 2020:

  • At-Risk Populations:
    • At-Risk Population Priority 1: Children identified as receiving Child Protective Services or at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation
    • At-Risk Population Priority 2: Children eligible through the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children  
    • At-Risk Population Priority 3: Families experiencing homelessness as defined in Section 11434(a)(2) of Title 42 of the United States Code, known as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
    • At-Risk Population Priority 4: Children of domestic violence survivors
  • Essential workers in the following sectors, whose total family income does not exceed the current income eligibility threshold and are not able to work remotely (enroll in the order listed):
    • Essential Worker Priority 1: Healthcare / Public Health and Emergency Service sectors
    • Essential Worker Priority 2: Food and Agriculture, Teachers, education staff, and providers of early learning and care services including custodial, kitchen staff, and other support staff, Workers supporting critical infrastructure, State and local government workers, Communications and Information Technology IT, Energy, Transportation and Logistics, Critical Manufacturing, Hazardous Materials, Financial Services, and Chemical sectors
    • Essential Worker Priority 3: All other fields listed on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers document, located at https://covid19.ca.gov/img/Ess...structureWorkers.pdf
  • Families with children with disabilities or special health care needs whose IEPs and IFSPs include ELC services.
  • Essential workers listed in #2 above, whose total family income exceeds the current income eligibility threshold and are not able to work remotely.
Contractor Considerations for Serving Families During State of Emergency

Contractors who are providing childcare during the State of Emergency will follow the ratios and group sizes below:

During the State of Emergency, contractors may utilize staff that meet the requirements of a “fully qualified teacher”, pursuant to 22 CCR Section 101216.1(c), as a “teacher” in the following ratios.

Family Child Care Homes

Small and large family child care homes may serve a total capacity of no more than 14 children, and group size may not exceed 10 children, unless more restrictive group sizes are required by state, federal, or local authorities. Over 10 children will require an additional staff or assistant to maintain group sizes of 10 or fewer children. Staff are not included in the group size.

In other words, if there are more than 10 children in care, then the children need to be divided into two small groups and kept separate from the other group of children each day, to the greatest extent possible. Siblings should remain in the same group.

Note: in response to the health emergency, infants are considered from birth to 18 months. The following are required ratios for infants in a family childcare home:

Age

Teacher: Child Ratio

Group Size

Infants 0-18 months only

1:4

4

No more than two infants when six children are present

1:6 (two infants + four children)

6

 

Early Learning and Care Centers

All ELC centers should adhere to the following teacher: child ratios and group size outlined below for prevention, containment, and mitigation measures.

Follow the group sizes in the chart below, unless more restrictive group sizes are required by federal, state, or local authorities. Note that the group sizes below do not include the teacher. When mixed ages are present and include an infant under 18 months, adherence to the 1:6 ratio must be followed to allow for responsive caregiving. If all children being cared for are infants, adherence to the 1:4 ratio must be followed within a group size, with no group no larger than 10.

Age

Teacher: Child Ratio

Group Size

 0-18 months (infant)

1:4

10

 18-36 months (toddler)

1:6

10

 3 years - kindergarten entry (preschool) & kindergarten entry

+ (school age)

1:10

10

 0 months to school age (mixed age groups)

1:6

10

Direct Early Learning and Care Contractors (CCTR, CSPP, CFCC)

Current contractors are encouraged to provide Emergency Childcare for essential workers to the extent that their contract funds support additional enrollment. At this time there is no additional funding being awarded to contractors for this purpose. Contractors are required to notify their CDE regional consultant and local Resource and Referral (R&R) agency if they are choosing to provide Emergency Childcare for essential workers during the State of Emergency. Contractors that choose to provide Emergency Child Care are required to comply with the additional health and safety guidelines below through June 30, 2020.

  • In order to ensure the health and safety of staff and children, contractors must follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Safety and Health Guidance for childcare programs found at https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/Co...rograms-Guidance.pdf.
  • All groups must be stable, meaning the same children and staff should be grouped together whenever possible. Siblings should be grouped together whenever possible to reduce further risk of exposure for the family.
  • Group sizes must be limited to 10 children per classroom or space. When the guidance from the local public health department differs for group size, the contractor must follow the more rigorous requirement.
  • If a contractor that is currently open cannot meet group size as listed because the number of currently enrolled families that are still attending is greater than the group size capacity, they must complete a temporary waiver, located at https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/elcdcovid19.asp, and submit it to their CDE regional consultant for approval.
  • Follow any further COVID-19 related guidance released by the CDSS regarding social distancing and health and safety practices in childcare settings.

Direct Early Learning and Care Contractors who are currently closed and choose to reopen to provide Emergency Childcare:

  • Must prioritize currently enrolled families to return for services before any new enrollment.
  • Must only enroll new families in the order specified in this MB.

Direct Early Learning and Care Contractors who are currently still open and providing care to currently enrolled families shall:

  • Continue to serve all currently enrolled and attending families.
  • Submit a group size waiver to their CDE regional consultant if the number of currently enrolled children that are attending regularly is above the group size capacity.
  • Not enroll additional families until the group is within group size capacity.
  • Enroll new families as provided in this MB in priority order as openings become available, so long as the contractor has available contract funds to support the enrollment.

Social and Physical Distancing Guidance and Healthy Practices for ELC Facilities

All contractors should follow healthy and safe practices in all ELC settings. The CDE and the CDSS, have jointly developed guidance for contractors to use to provide care while adhering to social distancing guidelines/requirements. Contractors should refer to additional guidance in CDSS’ Provider Information Notice (PIN) 20-06-CCP, which can be found on the CDSS website at https://www.cdss.ca.gov/infore...unity-care-licensing.

Resource and Referral Agencies and Local Child Care Planning Councils

The Resource and Referral Agencies (R&Rs) are a critical component to the early learning and care infrastructure and must remain open or have phone lines and email that can be accessed by employees remotely. The R&Rs will continue to provide resources to families and providers during the declared state of emergency including, but not limited to, updating the individual R&R program website to include relevant resources for families related to COVID-19. The R&Rs are responsible to inform the general public of available Emergency Childcare options, and assist essential worker families with finding emergency care.

Alternative Payment Contractors

Alternative Payment (AP) contractors may allow new enrollments of children for Emergency Childcare provided their contract funds support the additional enrollment. Before new enrollments can be approved, AP contractors will need to ensure they have funds to continue to pay for services for those children currently enrolled and whose families are still receiving care through the end of the fiscal year, and have contract funds for any new enrollments through June 30, 2020, within their current contract funds. At this time there is no additional funding being awarded to contractors for this purpose. Families eligible for Emergency Childcare must be enrolled in accordance with the enrollment priorities listed above. Contractors will reimburse providers based on the certified need of the family.

CDE Reporting Updates

The Child Development and Nutrition Fiscal Services (CDNFS) report forms will remain unchanged. A child enrolled in an ELC program, with eligibility based upon the criteria set forth in this MB is to be considered a certified child. Contractors who enroll children in a CCTR or CSPP program, on the basis of Emergency Childcare eligibility, will report the days of enrollment in the appropriate adjustment factor categories for certified children. Contractors who enroll children in a CAPP or CFCC program, on the basis of an Emergency Childcare eligibility, will report the provider payments on the Direct Payments to Providers line of the Fiscal Report submitted online. If there are questions related to the reporting of the child days of enrollment, please contact your assigned CDNFS Fiscal Analyst. The CDE Fiscal Apportionment Analyst Directory web page can be found at https://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/aa/cd/faad.asp.

Resources

The CDSS Community Care Licensing Division has developed PIN 20-04-CCP, which provides a statewide waiver for operation of childcare facilities, including licensees, registered TrustLine providers, and temporary employer sponsored childcare, along with guidance for the implementation of prevention, containment, and mitigation measures for COVID-19. This PIN can be found on the CDSS website at https://www.cdss.ca.gov/infore...unity-care-licensing.

The CDE Early Learning and Care Division has developed a COVD-19 guidance and resource page that includes answers to frequently asked questions, all management bulletins issued to implement pertinent legislation, and other relevant resources at https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/elcdcovid19.asp.

To be informed of the updated information, please sign up for Early Learning and Care Division's email list at https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/ci/progspeclist.asp.

For more information about federal and state guidance and response to COVID-19, please refer to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronaviru...childcare/index.html, the California Department of Public Health’s website at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Progra...zation/ncov2019.aspx, and the California COVID-19 Response website at https://covid19.ca.gov/.

The CDC recently released additional guidance for childcare providers in The Supplemental Guide for Child Care which can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-childcare.html.

If you have any questions regarding the information in this MB, please contact your assigned Early Learning and Care Consultant via the CDE Consultant Regional Assignments web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/ci/assignments.asp or by phone at 916-322-6233.

Stephen Propheter, Director 
Early Learning and Care Division
Questions:   Early Learning and Care Division | 916-322-6233

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