Questions and Answers about the Impact of the Coronavirus on California Families

We will update the Q&As below if new guidance or policies are issued.

This FAQ was created by the Child Care Law Center to provide you general information about the law. It should not be viewed as legal or other professional advice.
If you have further questions please contact us at www.childcarelaw.org/help.
1. My child care center or family child care home has closed due to the Coronavirus outbreak. I am an essential worker and need to find child care to keep going to work. Can I take my subsidy with me if I find a new provider? (Last updated 3/20/20)

Yes. During this emergency, if you still need child care services but your usual provider has closed, then you can start using a new provider immediately and that new provider can be paid.

You do not need to give a two-week notice before you start using an alternate provider. And your original provider may still get paid for up to 30 days after they close.

2. I have a child care subsidy for my younger child who is not in school. My older child is in school and previously did not need after school or before school care, so my child care subsidy only covers my younger child. Can I get a subsidy for my older, school-aged child now that schools have closed because of the Coronavirus? (Last updated 3/23/20)

Yes, if you are an essential worker with a child care subsidy for at least one child and you are not required to stay at home, you can increase your child care to include the child care need of your other child. When you have a subsidy, you can adjust your need for child care at any time.

The child care agency that gives you your subsidy gave you a notice called an “annual certification.” That annual certification should have included child care for your older school-aged child during vacations and summer break. 

If you have already been approved for part-time care for your older child during school breaks, you can ask the agency that gives you your subsidy to increase the child care for your older child to full-time because school is closed. Many child care agencies have closed their offices, but you can still request an increase in child care by phone and email. If you were not receiving any care for your older child, you can request that now. Requesting additional child care will not increase your family fee.

You are eligible for a child care subsidy for your children who are less than 13 years old. If your child needs extra care and supervision, they can be over 13 years old and still qualify for child care.

Note that this only applies to parents who already have a child care subsidy for at least one child. It does not apply to parents who do not receive a child care subsidy and now have a sudden need for child care because of school closures.

3. I have a child care subsidy and now I am out of work because of the Coronavirus outbreak, can I get my family fee reduced or eliminated? (Lasted updated 3/20/20)

Yes. You should quickly report to the agency that provides your subsidy that you have reduced income or no income and you need to have your family fee reduced or eliminated. You will be asked to give proof of your reduced income. Many child care agencies have closed their offices.  You should still be able to report your loss of income by phone or email.

If your hours have decreased or if you are no longer working, you can get a reduced family fee without reducing your child care hours. It’s up to you if you want your child care to continue at its current level until your next recertification.

4. My family has a child care subsidy. Will my subsidy be taken away or “terminated” because I am temporarily out of work or school during this Coronavirus crisis? (Last updated 3/24/20)

No, you should not have your subsidy taken away if you are temporarily out of work or school. 

All child care subsidies are now covered by 12-month eligibility. This means that once you are certified for a child care subsidy, your child care services continue for at least 12 months. You will continue to be eligible for the same or an increased amount of child care for the entire 12 months even if your circumstances change. 

You do NOT need to report most income changes, or changes in your work or school schedule. The only time you have to report a change is if your income goes above 85% of the state median income. If that happens, you must report the change within 30 days. 

You can also voluntarily report a change in income or child care need in order to reduce family fees, increase your child care service schedule, or add a new family member. If you voluntarily report a loss of income or that you no longer have a job to the agency that gives you your subsidy, they cannot use that information to decrease your child care or take away your child care. They cannot use that information to decrease your child care unless you want to reduce your child care hours and you voluntarily ask them to decrease your child care.

During this time when we have a “stay at home” order in place for the entire state, it is unlikely that any annual recertifications can take place. The Child Care Law Center has asked the California Department of Education to postpone all annual recertification appointments until after the “stay at home” order is lifted. We will update this answer when we learn more. 

However, since many child care offices are not physically open right now, we do expect that the recertification process will be temporarily postponed and your subsidized child care services will continue, even if you are unable to use them or your provider is closed. 

5. If my child does not show up at child care because of the risk of the Coronavirus and/or the statewide shelter-in-place order, will they be disenrolled from my subsidized child care space? (Last updated 3/24/20)

Your child should not be disenrolled from their subsidized child care even if they are unable to attend right now. All Californians are currently under a statewide order to stay at home, unless they are engaged in “essential work.” If you are not considered an “essential worker,” then you and your child are required to remain at home. Absences from child care will not lead to your child being disenrolled from subsidized child care whether your provider remains open or closed. 

The California Department of Education (known as CDE) has said that it will continue to pay providers when a child is not able to go to child care or when the provider has closed because of the Coronavirus. That guidance can be found here: Management Bulletin 20-04. Your provider (child care center, family child care home, or family-friend-neighbor care) will still receive their subsidy payment if your child is unable to attend. Many California child care providers have had to close because of the Coronavirus. If a provider cares for a child with a subsidy and has to close, that provider will be paid for up to 30 days of non-operation.

6. What should I do if I have a child care subsidy and need to go to work, but my child care provider has closed? (Last updated 3/24/20)

If you are part of the essential workforce, then you can continue to go to work, and to use your child care subsidy for child care.  If your provider has closed, you can get help from your local child care agency to find an alternative child care provider. Go to Question #1 to learn about using an alternative provider if your original provider is closed.

The California Department of Education (known as CDE) has said that it will continue to pay providers when a child is not able to go to child care or when the provider has closed because of the Coronavirus. That guidance can be found here: Management Bulletin 20-04. Your provider (child care center, family child care home, or family-friend-neighbor care) , will still receive their subsidy payment if your child is unable to attend. Many California child care providers have had to close because of the Coronavirus. If a provider cares for a child with a subsidy and has to close, that provider will be paid for up to 30 days of non-operation.

7. I live in an area that is being directed to shelter in place. Do I still have to go in to sign the attendance or timesheet for child care? (Last updated 3/20/20)

No, you do not need to sign the timesheet for your child care.

Usually, providers have to keep attendance records and get parent signatures if the provider serves families who get child care subsidies. Tell your provider that California has passed emergency measures that temporarily waive attendance and reporting requirements.

Providers can submit an invoice or attendance record without the parent signature if the parent is unavailable to sign due to the Coronavirus. This new rule is currently scheduled to last until June 30, 2020.

8. Can my child care provider make me continue paying even if they are closed due to the Coronavirus and my kids are not going to child care? (Last updated 3/20/20)

The answer to this question depends on what it says in the contract you have with your provider. Your provider can require you to continue paying if the contract says that you will be charged for times when your provider is not open due to a public health emergency. If it does not say this, then you cannot be charged if your provider closes due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

If you have a subsidy and your provider is closed due to the Coronavirus, you can start using a new provider immediately and that new provider can get paid. Your original provider, who is now closed, will also continue to get paid for up to 30 days when the child care business is closed due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Some providers are now asking their families to sign an addendum to their contract saying that families must continue to pay if the provider has to close their child care program due to a public health emergency.  Families may feel it’s unfair to ask them to sign this added section to their contract now. If you refuse to sign the new contract addendum, the provider has a few different options. The provider could stop providing child care or stop holding a spot for you, they could agree with you to not require that change, or they could try and work with you on a different change. Providers may decide to make individualized agreements and/or payment plans with each parent. All contract addendums or changes must be in writing and signed by you to be enforceable. 

Also, please note that during this time when we have the Governor’s “stay at home” order in place for the entire state, a contract that you had signed before the pandemic might not cover these kinds of unforeseen, unpredictable or emergency circumstances.

9. I am a California tenant. Can I be evicted from my home or have my utilities shut-off during the Coronavirus pandemic? (Last updated 3/18/20)

Right now, whether you can be evicted for non-payment of rent depends on where in California you live. The Governor has issued an Executive Order that allows cities and counties to temporarily stop evictions, and to slow housing foreclosures. Several cities and counties have done this, and more are considering this emergency measure to protect tenants. You can check your local city, town or county’s official website to find out if they have adopted, or are considering, any temporary protection for renters or homeowners.

If your city or county has adopted an order or ordinance limiting evictions, then your landlord may not start an eviction proceeding against you for non-payment of rent. But your nonpayment of rent must be due to a substantial decrease in your household or business income or due to substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses that are Coronavirus-related. During this temporary pause on court evictions, your landlord still has the right to collect rent and you still have an obligation to pay it.

This covers all tenants who rent their homes, including renters who have a family child care home. Right now, this Executive Order lasts until May 31, 2020, but may be extended after May 31.

Utility shut-off protection:  The Public Utilities Commission (also called the PUC) protects against the shut-off of critical utilities—including electricity, gas, water, internet, landlines and cell phones. The PUC recently announced that, retroactive to March 4, utility companies under its jurisdiction will not be allowed to suspend or disconnect service for ratepayers who cannot pay their bills during the virus outbreak. Check here to see if your utility companies are included in the PUC protections.