1. 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 Reviewed 11/23/21)
**This answer applies to private pay parents who do not receive government subsidies for child care. If you receive a subsidy, please see the questions under the heading, “CHILD CARE SUBSIDY.”**
It depends. Everyone’s situation differs, but we can provide general information. We encourage parents to speak with providers about their situations.
If you have a contract with your provider and you do not have a child care subsidy:
It depends on what is in the contract. The contract can say a parent must pay the provider when closed because of a “public health emergency.” They may use other words to describe the health crisis or COVID-19. If these words are in the contract, you may have to pay for child care. But you may not have to pay if the contract’s language is unclear.
If there is no written contract or your provider posted a “policy” about COVID-19 payments.
If there is no written contract, the provider probably can’t make you pay. If your provider posted a “policy” that parents must still pay, it will not be likely that they can force you to pay.
If your child care provider asks you to sign an “addendum” to their contract or to sign a new contract
If your provider asks a parent to sign a new contract or an “addendum,” the parent has the choice to refuse. The provider can refuse to hold a place for the child. Remember that all legal documents must be in writing and signed to be enforceable.
2. I am choosing not to send my child to child care, must I still pay my child care provider? (Last Reviewed 11/23/21)
**This answer applies to private pay parents who do not receive government subsidies for child care. If you receive a subsidy, please see the questions under the heading, “CHILD CARE SUBSIDY.”
For information about what happens if your child care provider is closed, see Question #1 “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?”
As counties start reopening, some child care providers are allowed to serve more families. However, some parents are choosing not to send their children right away. This could be because they currently do not need child care or because they still have concerns about coronavirus exposure.
If you are in this situation, look at your contract. If you are allowed to send your child to child care, but choose not to, you might have to pay:
- If you don’t want to lose your child’s spot in child care, or
- If you have a contract that says you have to give notice before canceling care
Providers can refuse to hold a spot for a child if they do not receive payment. If you do not want to continue to pay, you can choose to cancel your child care. But your contract might say that you have to give your provider notice before canceling. For example, if it says you have to give one month’s notice, you might owe one month’s payment. Check to see if there are exceptions to the notice requirement.
If there is no written contract or your provider has distributed or posted a “policy” (with or without specific mention of closure) it will be very difficult for your provider to enforce any agreement.
Providers might start providing online activities, but you could argue that this is not the same as providing child care and it is not what you agreed to verbally or in writing.
You can always talk with your provider to see if you’re able to come up with a compromise that works for everyone.
3. If my provider is open but my child is not attending, can I lose my space? (Last Reviewed 11/23/21)
Yes. Providers can request that parents provide a payment to hold their child’s spot in child care. If you do not want to pay to hold the spot, there’s always the possibility that the provider may give the spot to someone else.