1. Where can I get information about how to safely reopen my child care? (Last Reviewed 11/22/21)
- COVID-19 Guidance for Operating Early Care and Education/Child Care Programs has guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about how to operate your child care safely.
- Safely reopening California is a state resource that includes reopening information for businesses in california.
- COVID-19 Vaccination for Children 5 through 11 Years Old has information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the approved vaccine for children.
- COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards – Fact Sheets, Model Written Program and Other Resources provides information about the temporary standards to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Created by the California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Occupational Safety & Health (Cal/OSHA).
- The Early Learning and Care Playbook website helps providers understand new safety guidance and requirements. Created by the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS).
- This page in the Early Learning and Care Playbook website provides guidance regarding drop-off & pick-up for child care.
- Community Care Licensing has provided guidance on what child care providers should do to prevent, contain and reduce the spread of the Coronavirus. The PIN will lead you to the California Department of Public Health Guidance. See PIN 21-18-CCP.
- Your local county department of public health might have even stricter health guidelines, which you would also have to follow.
- Contact your licensing analyst if you have questions. Licensing is conducting tele-visits where they can give you advice and answer questions. Before your tele-visit, you can download their COVID informational posters and put them in your childcare. See our section on “Licensing “Visits”” for more information.
- You can email Community Care Licensing at CCLCOVID-19INFO@dss.ca.gov with your specific questions.
If you were closed and decide to reopen your child care program, contact your local licensing (CCL) consultant, your local Resource and Referral agency, and notify your regional office in writing. You can email your regional office at CCLCOVID-19INFO@dss.ca.gov.
2. What should my child care’s COVID-19 policies include? (Last Updated 7/23/21)
Your COVID-19 child care policies should focus on prevention and everyone’s health and safety. While you can create your own policies, they cannot be less strict than what the guidance issued by California Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing, California Department of Public Health (CDPH), California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Occupational Safety & Health (Cal/OSHA), or your local department of public health have instituted.
Try to have open and clear communication with the parents in your child care. Being open and clear should make it easier for parents to adjust because different places have different COVID-19 policies. Try to keep families updated, especially if your policies have to change to maintain safety.
If you want more information about how to safely reopen your child care see Question #1 “Where can I get information about how to safely reopen my child care?“
If you want to know what you need to do if a child in your care or someone you know gets COVID-19, see “What do I do if I get coronavirus or a child in my care or someone living with me gets coronavirus?”
3. Can providers control who enters into their family child care home or child care facility? (Last Reviewed 11/22/21)
A provider may control who enters their child care. A provider should remember that parents have the right to enter and inspect the child care center or the child care home. 22 CCR § 101218.1 (centers), 22 CCR § 102419 (family child care homes). If a provider has a safety protocol to not allow parents to enter the facility, let the parent know. If the parent still needs to enter the facility, try to accomodate the parent while maintaining everyone’s safety.
This state resource includes suggestions and guidance or parent drop-off & pick-up.
4. What group size should family child care providers be using during this pandemic? (Last Reviewed 3/15/22)
Currently, there are no longer county tiers, capacity limits, or physical distancing requirements set by the California Public Health Department.
However, physical distancing in child care settings, like having cohorts or groups, are still encouraged when possible.
The Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) and the California Public Health Department (“CDPH”) have guidance on how child care programs can continue safely operating during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
What is a “stable group” or “cohort”?
- Keeps people together in a small group, where each group stays together throughout the day.
- Can limit the number of children and staff who interact with each other, especially when it is difficult to physically distance, particularly in areas with moderate-to-high transmission levels.
- Can limit the spread of COVID-19 between groups of children and staff.
- Should not replace other preventative steps within each group (i.e. handwashing, regular cleaning, etc.).
The CDC recommends that early childhood education programs, including child care programs:
- Should have universal indoor masking for everyone 2 years old or older regardless of vaccination status
- Should, when possible, keep indoor physical distancing when not everyone is fully vaccinated.
- Should not exclude children from in-person care to keep a minimum distance requirement.
Please note: People who are fully vaccinated do not need to physically distance themselves unless required by other federal or local laws or business or workplace guidance.
When physical distancing is not possible in child care programs, programs should try to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 by:
- Cohorting/grouping staff and children,
- Masking indoors when safe and possible,
- Improving ventilation,
- Covering coughs and sneezes, and
- Regularly cleaning.
When making a plan to physically distance and/or have cohorts/groups:
- Child care programs should first consider the education loss, the social and emotional well-being of children, and the needs of families in their care when they cannot attend the programs in person.
- Plans may look different depending on the size of the child care program (i.e. family child care homes versus child care centers).
- The CDC recommends that child care programs:
- Place children and staff in distinct groups that stay together throughout the entire day.
- Place the same children in the same groups each day when possible, and the same child care providers should remain with the same group of children each day.
- Limit mixing between groups so there is minimal or no interaction between groups.
- Have children and staff maintain a 6 foot distance from different groups.
- Separate children’s naptime mats or cribs, have children sleep head to toe, and always remove masks from children when sleeping.
- Provide physical guides, such as wall signs or tape on floors, to help maintain distance between groups in common areas.
- Stagger use of communal spaces between groups.
- Stagger child arrival, drop-off, and pick-up times or locations by group and prioritize outdoor drop-off and pick-up, if possible.
- In transport vehicles, seat one child per row or skip rows when possible. Children from the same home can sit together.
- Prioritize outdoor activities when possible and have physically active play outside. Maintain cohorts if feasible in outdoor play spaces. Masks should not be worn when swimming or playing in water.
The CDPH also recommends child care programs:
- Continue cohort or grouping policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and
- Follow Cal/OSHA ETS for physical distancing requirements.
For more child care program guidance from:
- The CDC, visit its “Early Childhood Education & Child Care Programs” Updated January 28, 2022 guidance here.
- The CDPH, visit its “Guidance for Child Care Providers and Programs” March 12, 2022 guidance here.
- Your local department of public health department, find and visit your local department webpage here.
5. Where can I get cleaning supplies and learn about best practices for cleaning? (Last Reviewed 3/15/2022)
If you need cleaning supplies to keep your child care program safe, contact your local Resource and Referral Agency (also called R&R). The R&Rs may have funding to help providers get the supplies they need to mitigate and prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
You can find good information about cleaning and hygiene at these sources:
- The Center for Disease Control January 28, 2022 guidance, Early Childhood Education & Child Care Programs;
- The California Department of Public Health March 12, 2022 Guidance for Child Care Programs and Providers; and
- The California Health and Human Services Agency guidance, Early Learning and Care Playbook website.
6. Does everyone age 2 and older have to wear a mask at child care? (Last Reviewed 3/15/22)
Yes, everyone aged 2 and older should wear a mask. Updated guidance from the California Department of Public Health still recommends masks be worn indoors even if you are vaccinated, which follows the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Guidelines. All children over the age of 2 are encouraged to wear masks.
Under those same guidelines, babies and toddlers under the age of 2 are discouraged from wearing cloth face coverings because it increases their risk of suffocation. However, as the face-covering requirement for children under 2 varies by county, be sure to check with your county department of public health.
7. Where can I get information about caring for school-age children who are distance learning? (Last Reviewed 11/22/21)
Community Care Licensing released a Provider Information Notice (“PIN”) with information and resources about how to support school-age children who are distance learning. You can find that information in PIN-20-29-CCP. If you are caring for school-age children whose families pay with subsidies after November 15, 2021, you will not be paid for providing care. Refer to “Will I be paid when a child in my care is doing distance learning during school hours?” for more information.
8. Can child care providers get special privileges at stores? (Last Reviewed 11/22/2021)
Yes, California has a list of essential workers here and child care providers are considered essential workers. Without child care, healthcare and other frontline workers cannot go to work. If stores offer special privileges to essential workers, child care providers should be able to use those privileges.
Many providers can only go to the store during certain hours when their child care is closed. They also have to buy more food and cleaning supplies in order to care for the children. Some stores allow essential workers to go to the front of the line or access the store during special hours, before supplies run out. Stores also might waive limits on the amount of food and disinfectant supplies a person can buy, if that person is an essential worker. Child care providers should be included in these privileges.
Some stores might not know that child care providers are essential workers. Some stores have said these special privileges are only for first responders and health care essential workers. You can print and show them this letter.
Licensing has provided some tips for providers who need to bulk buy for their child care program:
- Check the Store’s Website: Look for information about the store’s bulk buying policies and any required documentation
- Call Ahead: Contact customer service and explain that you are a licensed facility in need of bulk supplies for your clients. Verify if they have a policy in place to allow this and find out what you need to do to make your bulk purchase.
- At the Store: Look for signs or notices that provide the store’s procedures for obtaining bulk orders.
- Bring a copy of your facility license to the store as verification for your unique need (e.g. you can take a picture of your facility license as an option). You can inform them that they can also verify your license at our website.
- Online Ordering and Delivery: Some stores may provide this option if you cannot visit in person.
- Alternative Suppliers: Reach out to local farms, restaurants, bakeries, and other businesses who may be offering food and supplies during this time. Some restaurant chains like Panera and Subway have converted to operate as grocery stores to stay in business and support communities.
If the store is still not including child care providers as essential workers, you should contact your local elected representative and explain the situation to them. You can also reach out to the Child Care Law Center at https://www.childcarelaw.org/help/.
9. What are the temporary waivers that Community Care Licensing released in response to the coronavirus pandemic? (Last Reviewed 10/27/22)
All COVID-19-related waivers expired on June 30, 2022, or the date specified in the PIN. See PIN 22-16-CCP.
All waivers listed in PIN 21-08-CCP, PIN 21-07-CCP, PIN 20-14-CCLD, and 20-04-CCLD are expired. All licensing requirements waived in these PINs have been reinstated.
Community Care Licensing Division will work with child care providers to adjust to their previous operations (before Licensing issued the COVID-19 waivers). Contact the Regional Community Care Licensing Division Child Care Office for more support.
Waivers and Exceptions Not Related to COVID-19
Personnel Requirements Waivers:
Tuberculosis (TB) testing waivers for people getting the COVID-19 vaccine: The COVID-19 vaccine might affect TB test results. New staff and providers who were vaccinated or will be vaccinated can start work immediately. However, they must meet these requirements:
- The licensee must complete a TB Risk Assessment Questionnaire before beginning work.
- The licensee must ensure new staff and providers get TB clearance within five weeks of getting their second vaccine shot. For more information, read page three – PIN 21-03-CCLD.
Administrator Certification Program Fee, License Fee, and Home Care Aide Registration Fee Waiver
You can request a fee waiver if you have been displaced or are experiencing economic hardship caused by the pandemic. To request a fee waiver, you must submit a written request to Licensing. To find out what to include, read page two – PIN 20-10-CCLD. Waivers will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Providers may request waivers for other licensing rules. Waivers should be submitted in writing and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. To learn more, contact your Child Care Regional Office.