Child Care Information for Providers

Cartoon image of children and an early care and education provider

What guidance are you giving providers continuing to operate?

We recognize this is a challenging time for the early care and education community. The department has produced a series of guidance documents and templates for providers. Those resources include:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (DCD) COVID-19 Guidance for Operating Early Care and Education/Child Care Programs

Back to School Guidance for Child Care Providers Fall 2021

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) recognizes there will be vast differences in learning environments for school-age children this fall as independent school districts statewide respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. DCF is prepared to work with child care providers, school districts, and community partners as they identify specific child care needs in their communities and work to meet those needs.

DCF staff have the resources and the ability to work with existing providers to expedite temporary relocations of programs that may be unable to operate in their usual location and to open additional locations for existing providers. This work is already underway in each region as DCF staff work with child care providers and school districts who are collaborating to meet the unique needs in their community. Existing providers should contact their regional licensing specialist to discuss their plans for this fall, even if they are not yet finalized. This will allow DCF staff and the provider to review options and identify any items that could be addressed ahead of time to avoid unnecessary delays.

Exception Requests

Per DCF administrative rules, licensees may request exceptions to any rule requirements. Requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the regional licensing specialist and their supervisor, in accordance with the DCF exception review process. A written exception request will need to include the licensee’s alternate plan for meeting the intent of the specific rule for which the request is submitted, ensuring the health, safety, and welfare of children is still met. It is important to note that DCF does not have the authority to grant exceptions to state statute or to another agency’s administrative rule or requirement.

Note: DCF has received several inquiries about capacity exceptions for licensed family child care providers. DCF will not grant exception requests for family child care providers to exceed the maximum capacity of children in care.

Background Checks

For new licensees, after required background checks are completed, DCF staff are prepared to expedite the initial licensing process, working in conjunction with local consultants to ensure new licensees receive necessary start-up and pre-licensing technical assistance, while also becoming operational as quickly and safely as possible. Prior to submitting an application for licensure, prospective child care licensees or employees may request their own background check through the iChildCare Portal at any time. 

For more information on the background check process and requirements, please visit the department’s Child Care Background Check Requirements webpage

Frequently Asked Questions

A current trend identified at the regional level in the past few weeks is that the general public, including school districts, lacks adequate information about licensing requirements. In many cases, this causes confusion and unnecessary delays in potential programs becoming operational.

Frequently asked questions, found on the department’s COVID-19 Child Care Information for Providers webpage, are helpful as providers and school districts navigate the return to school. 

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for Child Care Providers

Introduction

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is committed to helping keep child care programs open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Child care is a vital resource for families in our state. We understand and appreciate the challenges many of you face and value your continued efforts to serve the children and families of Wisconsin. 

As of July 26, 2021, the Department of Health Services (DHS) has identified 616,503 cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin and the vaccination rate is currently 49%. Programs should continue to prepare for possible impacts of COVID-19 and take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

The purpose of these FAQs is to provide guidance to child care, Head Start, and 3K/4K programs. We continue to recommend child care programs remain open, unless remaining open is not feasible based on the guidance below.

DHS, in consultation with DCF, recently published Guidelines for the Prevention, Investigation, and Control of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Child Care Settings. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated guidance for child care programs in July 2021. The information below includes recommendations from DHS and the CDC.

General Questions

1. How can a child care program best meet the needs of parents returning to work while also balancing the needs of children in large group settings?

In recognition of differences in the levels of COVID-19 spread throughout the state and how quickly changes can occur within individual communities, these guidelines will assist child care programs in determining their ability to maintain or increase capacity, while still following applicable rules and regulations to keep children safe and healthy.

Child care programs play a critical role in promoting equity in learning, care, and health, particularly for groups disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Health equity considerations are a critical part of decision-making. ECE administrators and public health officials can ensure safe and supportive environments and reassure families and Early Childhood Education (ECE) staff and providers by planning and using comprehensive prevention strategies for in-person learning and care and communicating those efforts. ECE programs can work with parents to understand their preferences and concerns for in-person learning and care.

Together with local public health officials, child care administrators should consider multiple factors when implementing layered prevention strategies against COVID-19. Since child care programs typically serve their surrounding communities, decisions should be based on the program population, families and children served, as well as their communities.

Child care programs should:

  • Comply with applicable licensing and certification ratio and group size requirements. Providers must also comply with any local, more restrictive orders that may limit group size.

  • Make informed and educated decisions regarding increasing child and staff capacity within their program (up to their licensed/certified capacity). In making this decision, consider the following:

    • The current spread of COVID-19 in the local community and/or county/tribe. Child care programs may consult their local health department or the DHS Disease Activity by Region and County website for the level of community transmission and how it may affect their operation and/or screening practices.

    • COVID-19 vaccination coverage in the community and among children and staff.

    • Whether the program has and can implement emergency plans, such as for a new outbreak of COVID-19 within the program or community.

    • The number of staff available to meet the regulation requirements and needs of the program (i.e. directors, teachers, cooks, drivers).

    • The availability of substitute staff should regular staff become ill.

    • Modify job responsibilities for staff at higher risk for severe illness who have not been fully vaccinated while protecting individual privacy.

    • Whether there is enough space within the learning environment, both indoors and outdoors, to encourage physical distancing during activities, rest time, and meal/snack times.

    • Whether designated space is available to isolate a child who becomes ill at the program while awaiting pickup.

    • Whether staff with personal protective equipment are available to remain with an isolated child while waiting for family to arrive.

    • Whether there have been several confirmed COVID cases already at the center.

    • Keep in mind, without an approved exception, the number of children at a group child care center at any one time may not exceed the number for which the center is licensed or certified; the age of children served by a center may not be younger or older than the age range specified in the license/certificate; and the hours, days, and months of a center’s operation may not exceed those specified in the license/certificate.

2. What if my municipality issued a local public health order?

Child care providers must follow all local guidance and orders issued by their counties, tribes, local public health departments, and state government. Providers should adhere to the guidance and orders that are most restrictive for their area.

3. Are there any rules waivers currently in effect?

No. All licensing and certification rules remain in effect.

4. What is the best way to ensure I am receiving up to date communication from DCF regarding COVID-19?

In addition to regularly contacting your licensing specialist or certification worker, providers can sign up to receive regular communication from DCF. Providers can subscribe to the child care email list. A list of archived email messages for child care programs is located on the department’s website.

5. Are child care center staff required to complete fingerprint-background checks? Are those requirements still paused?

Existing individuals who have not completed their fingerprint background check or who have temporary name-based eligibility were required to to complete their Fieldprint fingerprint appointment by June 1, 2021. Licensees/certified operators not in compliance are subject to enforcement action.

Open Fieldprint sites can be found on their website or by calling 888-472-8918. A copy of the fingerprint instruction letter is available in the Child Care Provider Portal (CCPP).

For complete details, visit the DCF Background Check Requirements webpage.

6. DCF recommends additional resources that may support child care programs in reopening and/or remaining open

The following resources are provided as additional guidance for program-level questions to consider. Before referring to these resources, please note that local public health authorities determine and establish the quarantine options for their jurisdictions.

7. I want to start a new child care program. What do I need to do?

See information on the Starting a Licensed Child Care Program page. 

 

Back to School

Current Providers

  1. We are a group child care center. What is required for programing when much of the day (about 3 or so hours) will need to be virtual schooling?
    DCF 251.07 (1) (a) requires that programming be suitable for the developmental level of each child and each group of children. Providing opportunities for virtual learning and supporting other school work would be considered suitable for the developmental level of school-age children. Per 251.07 (1) (b) 1. through 3., there should still be a flexible balance of other activity, including outdoor activity, throughout the day.
     
  2. We are a group child care center and might have instances where school-age children are overlapping, i.e. the afternoon group of children gets dropped off prior to the morning group of children leaving the center.
    Programs will need to work with their regional licensing specialist to increase the center capacity for situations where children in care are overlapping during times throughout the day.
     
  3. Will the department entertain exceptions to the director requirements for group child care centers over 50 children that would expand program capacity to meet community need and take school-age children?
    Contact your regional licensing specialist to discuss your specific situation.

  4. Our program typically operates in a school building, but the district is not allowing us to operate in the building this year due to the pandemic. What are our options?
    Contact your regional licensing specialist and reach out to community partners to discuss options for a temporary relocation of your program. Be sure to discuss your plans with your licensing specialist prior to securing alternate space to ensure the location meets all applicable requirements. In many cases, a building inspection may be required.

    DCF staff are prepared to work with existing providers to expedite temporary relocations to help programs become operational by the start of the school year.
     
  5. Our program is operating at capacity, but we would like to open an additional location to serve school-age children. What is the process?
    Determine your additional location. Contact your regional licensing specialist to discuss your plans, request application materials, and discuss a timeline. DCF staff are prepared to work with existing providers to expedite applications for additional locations to help programs become operational by the start of the school year.
     
  6. Our licensed before and after school program would like to operate full days this year. What do we need to do?
    Contact your regional licensing specialist to request an amendment to your licensed hours.
     
  7. We have some directors that are overseeing four part-day programs now, that during this time will need to be full-time programs, how will we address that?
    Contact your licensing specialist to discuss the possibility of an exception.
     
  8. Can a qualified assistant teacher supervise a group of children who are in a virtual learning environment or engaged in other school-related activities out of the direct supervision of a child care teacher?
    Commentary under DCF 251.055 (1) (b) allows qualified assistant teachers to temporarily supervise a group of children away from direct supervision of the qualified child care teacher. This may be an option when some kids are in virtual school and the others may need to be in other activity.

  9. I’m a family child care provider and DCF 250.055 (1) (h) doesn’t allow providers to be engaged in any other activity or occupation during the hours of operation of the center, including homeschooling or virtual school. Can I have my own children at home with me or school-age children in care attending virtual school?
    The Department is considering that child care providers are assisting children with school work when they’re doing their virtual learning at the center and not providing the main instruction. The school district teachers are still responsible for the curriculum and instruction, not the child care provider. The provider is there to assist the child like they would with any homework and there is no licensing rule that prohibits this.

  10. What are the programming requirements for school-age children in a family child care?
    DCF 250.07 (1) (a) requires the programming be suitable for the developmental level of children. Providing opportunities for virtual learning and supporting other school work would be considered suitable for the developmental level of school-age children. Per 250.07 (1) (b) 1. through 3., there should still be a flexible balance of other activity, including outdoor activity, throughout the day.

 

Ratios, Capacity, and Enrollment

1. What are the ratio and group size requirements for staff and children?

Normal ratio and group size rules are in effect. However, providers must comply with any local, more restrictive orders that may limit the number of children in a group.  If a child care program wishes to modify their ages served, hours of operation, or capacity, they may submit a request to the regulating agency. Note: Licensed family child care providers may not care for more than 8 children per DCF 250.055(2)(a).

2. I’m a certified family child care provider. Can I increase the capacity of my center?

Possibly. Certified child care providers may increase the capacity of their center as long as they do not care for 4 or more children under the age of 7 years  who are not related to the provider, and they do not have a total of more than 8 children in care at one time in their center. Certified providers will need to contact their certification specialist to submit an exception request. Keep in mind, providers must comply with any local, more restrictive orders that may limit the number of children in a group.

3. I’m a licensed family child care provider. Can I increase the capacity of my center above the maximum 8 children?

No, licensed family child care centers cannot exceed the maximum number of 8 children in care. Licensing rules and building codes restrict family child care centers from caring for more than 8 children. The department is committed to the health and safety of children in child care. As a result, DCF will not grant exceptions for family child care providers to exceed the maximum capacity of children in care.  If you wish to care for 9 or more children, you may apply for a group child care license. Also, providers must comply with any local, more restrictive orders that may limit the number of children in a group.

4. What is the maximum number of children that may be cared for in a group or family child care center?

All programs must comply with their current certified or licensed capacity. Also, providers must comply with any local, more restrictive orders that may limit the number of children in a group. If a program is interested in changing their maximum capacity, they will need to contact their regulating agency and should consider the following factors:

  • The current spread of COVID-19 in the local community, county, or tribe. Child care programs may consult their local health department or the DHS Disease Activity by Region and County website to determine the level of community transmission and how it should affect their operation and/or screening practices.
  • Whether the program has and can implement emergency plans if there is a new outbreak of COVID-19 within the program or community.
  • The number of staff available to meet the regulation requirements and needs of the program (i.e. directors, teachers, cooks, drivers).
  • The availability of substitute staff should regular staff become ill.
  • Whether there is enough space within the learning environment, both indoors and outdoors, to encourage physical distancing during activities, rest time, and meal times.
  • Whether designated space is available to isolate a child who becomes ill while at the program and is awaiting pickup by a parent or guardian.
  • Whether staff with personal protective equipment are available to remain with an isolated child while awaiting pickup.
  • Whether there have been several confirmed COVID-19 cases already at the center.

All programs must comply with applicable licensing and certification ratio and group size requirements and must request changes to the center’s regulated capacity by contacting their licensor/certifier. Due to restrictions under Wisconsin’s commercial building codes, licensed family child care programs may not care for more than 8 children. 

Remember, all programs must comply with any state and local municipal restrictions regarding group size.

 

 

Prevention

The next several months will be a transitional period where younger children (ages 11 and under) are not yet approved for vaccination, so prevention strategies remain important to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of younger children. ECE administrators should consider multiple factors when they make decisions about implementing layered prevention strategies against COVID-19. See the CDC’s updated guidance regarding vaccinations, mask use, physical distancing and cohorting, ventilation, handwashing, staying home when sick, isolation and quarantine, transportation, diapering, and cleaning/disinfecting.

1. What types of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should a child care program be using?

PPE is equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that may cause illnesses. PPE may include face masks, face shields, gloves, and gowns. There is no administrative rule that requires caregivers to wear a specific type of PPE. However,  Emergency Order 1 and Executive Order 105 are in effect in Wisconsin until April 5, 2021. These orders require adults and children (age 5 and older) to wear face masks.

The CDC and state health guidance strongly recommends masks be worn indoors by all individuals (ages 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. Child care programs may implement universal mask use in some situations, such as if they serve a population not yet eligible for vaccination or if they have increasing, substantial, or high COVID-19 transmission in their ECE program or community. Child care programs also need to comply with any local orders that require adults and children (age 5 and older) to wear face masks.

If social distancing or barrier/partition controls cannot be implemented during the screening of children upon arrival or while caring for a child who is displaying symptoms and in isolation, personal protective equipment (PPE) can be used when within 6 feet of a child. If performing a temperature check on multiple individuals, ensure that you use a clean pair of gloves for each child and thoroughly clean the thermometer between each check.

The procedure to don and doff should be tailored to the specific type of PPE that you have available at your facility. If your facility does not have specific guidance, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended video and infographic sequences for donning and doffing PPE.

2. Do I have to do a health screening of every child and staff upon arrival each day?

DCF does not require health screenings. However, DCF encourages programs to consider implementing one of the CDC recommended screening practices. There are three screening options to consider, which can be found on the CDC’s website. A sample health screening checklist is available on DCF’s website.

If a program chooses to implement health screenings upon entry, the following steps could be taken:

  • Take the temperature and check symptoms for staff and children upon entry each day. Alternatively, programs can ask each parent/guardian to take their child’s temperature at home and affirm that the child does not have a fever.
  • Ask if medications were used to lower any individual’s temperature.
  • Ask if there are any household members who have recently tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Ask if they are limiting the number of people they come into contact with to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Send children and staff with a fever at or above 100.4°F home.

For additional DHS guidance regarding exclusion criteria review the following:

3. Do children have to stay in the same group every day?

Per CDC recommendations,  child care programs where not everyone is fully vaccinated should implement physical distancing to the extent possible indoors. Because of the essential service that ECE programs provide, child care programs should not exclude children from in-person care to keep a minimum distance requirement.
Maintaining physical distance is often not feasible in child care settings, especially during certain activities (e.g., diapering, feeding, holding/comforting, etc.) and among younger children in general. When it is not possible to maintain physical distance in ECE settings, it is especially important to layer multiple prevention strategies, such as cohorting, masking indoors, improving ventilation, handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, and regular cleaning to help reduce transmission risk. Mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is particularly important when physical distance cannot be maintained. A distance of at least 6 feet is recommended between adults who are not fully vaccinated.

People who are fully vaccinated do not need to physically distance except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. Although challenging and at times not possible in an ECE setting, people who are not fully vaccinated should physically distance from others who are not fully vaccinated as much as possible and wear a mask.

Cohorts can be used to limit the number of children and staff who come in contact with each other, especially when it is challenging to maintain physical distancing, such as among young children, particularly in areas of moderate-to-high transmission levels. The use of cohortsing can limit the spread of COVID-19 between cohorts but should not replace other prevention measures within each group. When determining how to ensure physical distance and size of cohorts, ECE programs should consider education loss and social and emotional well-being of children, and the needs of the families served when they cannot attend ECE programs in person.

Place children and child care providers into distinct groups that stay together throughout the entire day using these guidelines:.

  • If possible, your child care groups should include the same children each day, 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 or cohorts.
  • The number of cohorts or groups may vary depending on the child care program type (centers versus homes) and size, with smaller programs having fewer cohorts than larger ones.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet between children and staff from different cohorts.
  • Separate children’s naptime mats or cribs and place them so that children are head to toe for sleeping. Masks should not be worn when sleeping.
  • Provide physical guides, such as wall signs or tape on floors, to help maintain distance between cohorts in common areas.
  • Stagger use of communal spaces between cohorts.
  • Stagger child arrival, drop-off, and pick-up times or locations by cohort 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, physically active play should be done outside. Maintain cohorts if feasible in outdoor play spaces. Masks should not be worn when swimming or playing in water.
  • If possible, avoid sharing spaces, even if the use of the space is staggered and used by only one group at a time. Limit the mixing of children by staggering playground times and keep groups separate for special activities such as art, music, and physical activity. Consider bringing the activities to the children’s rooms to prevent mixing of students and using common spaces. Large rooms or areas, like gymnasiums or playgroups, can be divided into discrete sections. Centers should clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces throughout the day. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • Group child care centers may consider using mixed-age grouping of children to keep sibling groups together and to allow greater flexibility in managing fluctuating enrollment and staffing patterns. Consult with your licensing specialist if you need assistance.

See the CDC's updated guidance for schools and ECE programs and DHS guidance in Guidelines for the Prevention, Investigation, and Control of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Child Care Settings, specifically the section: Cleaning Schedule and Checklist for Child Care Facilities.

4. What can be done to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in a program?

  • Pick-up and drop-off times:
    • Stagger arrival and drop off times.
    • Consider limiting adult entry to the facility (e.g., staff can be stationed at the front door, where families can drop children off).
    • Request one family member as the designated person for drop off and pick up.
    • Provide hand sanitizer for adults at sign-in stations.
  • Child care programs should limit nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations with people who are not fully vaccinated, particularly in areas when there is moderate-to-high COVID-19 community transmission.
  • Post signs on how to stop the spread of COVID-19, properly wash hands, promote everyday protective measures, promote vaccination, and properly wear a face covering.
  • If transport vehicles, (such as buses or vans,) are used by your program, drivers should practice all safety actions and protocols as indicated for other staff (e.g. hand hygiene, masks). Create distance between children on transport buses. (For example, seat children one child per row, skip rows, when possible.) However, children from the same home can be seated together.
  • Keep children 6 feet apart when possible. Arrange the environment to increase the size of learning centers or space materials further apart.
  • During rest time, place resting equipment 6 feet apart, including cribs, and arrange children head to toe.
  • Limit use of water or sensory tables and wash hands immediately after any use of these tools.
  • Minimize time standing in lines.
  • Wash hands immediately after outdoor play time.
  • See additional guidance regarding Meals and Snacks FAQs below.
  • Increase sanitization and hygiene practices:
    • Practice frequent handwashing.
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of hands and rub together until they feel dry. Remember to supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer to prevent swallowing the sanitizer.
    • Practice handwashing upon arrival to the program, before meals and snacks, after outdoor play, after using the bathroom, prior to going home, after blowing your nose or assisting a child with blowing their nose, and after coughing or sneezing.
    • Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash, and clean hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
    • Additional cleaning recommendations can be found on the CDC website.

 

Staying Home When Sick

The overlap between COVID-19 symptoms with other common illnesses means that some people with symptoms of COVID-19 could be ill with something else. This is even more likely in young children, who typically have multiple viral illnesses each year. Although COVID-19, colds, and flu illnesses have similar symptoms, they are different diseases. Children who have symptoms of infectious illness or certain symptoms of COVID-19 should not attend your ECE program. Encourage your families to be on the alert for signs of illness in their children and to keep them home when they are sick. Parents should pay particular attention to:

  • Fever (temperature 100.4 ºF or higher)
  • Sore throat
  • New uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing (for a child with chronic allergic/asthmatic cough, see if there is a change from their usual cough)
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, or stomachache
  • New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever

People who have a fever of 100.4 ºF (38.0 ºC) or above or other signs of illness should not be admitted to your facility.

The length of time the child should stay out of child care depends on whether the child has COVID-19 or another illness. In most instances, those who have COVID-19 can be around others after

  • 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
  • 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving

Close Contacts of Persons with COVID-19

Whether and for how long to stay home for people who have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 depends on vaccination status.

  • Children and unvaccinated staff who had close contact with someone who has (suspected or confirmed) COVID-19 should stay home (quarantine) for 14 days after their last exposure to that person. Close contact is defined as within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Some localities might choose to use testing to shorten quarantine
  • People who are fully vaccinated and do not have COVID-19 symptoms do not need to quarantine or get tested after an exposure to someone with COVID-19.
  • ECE programs should educate staff and families about when they and their children should stay home and when they can return to ECE programs.

 

Meals and Snacks

1. How should meals and snacks be provided? Are child care programs required to serve meals pre-plated instead of family style to reduce the spread of COVID-19?

  • Food service workers should have and wear PPE, such as gloves and face masks.
  • Improve ventilation in food preparation, service, and eating areas.
  • If a cafeteria or group dining room is typically used, serve meals in classrooms instead. When possible, consider using additional spaces for mealtime seating, including eating meals and snacks outdoors or in well-ventilated spaces whenever possible. 
  • Family-style meal service is not recommended. Instead kitchen staff and child care providers should handle utensils and serve food using gloves or provide individual pre-plated meals. Given very low risk of transmission from food, food packaging, surfaces, and shared objects, there is no need to limit food service operations to single use items and packaged meals. 
  • When possible, ensure food preparation is not done by the same staff who diaper children.
  • Sinks used for food preparation should not be used for any other purposes.
  • If you provide meals or snacks in a large lunchroom, stagger meal times and make sure tables are at least 6 feet apart. Space children as far apart as you can at the table. Clean and sanitize tables before and after each group eats.
  • Promote hand washing before, during, and after shifts, before and after eating, after using the toilet, and after handling the garbage, dirty dishes, or removing gloves. Caregivers should ensure children wash hands prior to and immediately after eating. Caregivers should wash their hands before preparing food and after helping children to eat. 
  • Toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children should bring a labeled water bottle each day or be provided with labeled drinking cups or disposable drinking cups and should not drink from a water fountain.

 

Toothbrushing

Toothbrushing is an important component for many ECE programs. Because toothbrushing can cause droplet spatter and potential contamination of surfaces and supplies, programs should follow these steps for hygienic toothbrushing in group settings:

  • Because there is the possibility of children who are not vaccinated transmitting COVID-19 to others via salivary droplets during brushing, it is recommended for program staff helping children with brushing to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and may consider wearing a properly fitted mask covering their nose and mouth for additional protection.
  • Ensure that each child has his or her own toothbrush, clearly labeled. To prevent cross-contamination of the toothpaste tube, ensure that a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is dispensed onto a piece of wax paper before dispensing any onto the toothbrush.
  • Encourage children to avoid placing toothbrushes directly on counter surfaces.
  • After children finish brushing, ensure that they rinse their toothbrushes thoroughly with water, allow them to air-dry, and store them in an upright position so they cannot contact those of other children.
  • Have children bring a designated reusable cup, or provide children with paper cups to use for rinsing after they finish brushing. Do not allow them to share cups and ensure that they dispose of paper cups or store reusable cups properly after a single use.
  • Stagger the use of bathrooms or other communal spaces used for toothbrushing. Allow one cohort (group) to complete toothbrushing, and clean and disinfect the area before another cohort has access to the area. Follow all available guidance for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces in child care centers.
  • Ensure that children and staff wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after brushing teeth.
  • Additional prevention strategies to prevent transmission of COVID-19 to others during brushing should be followed, such as staggering children brushing their teeth to provide more space, having children spit into the sink after brushing one at a time, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after brushing teeth or helping children brush their teeth, and cleaning and disinfecting the area used for toothbrushing before another group has access to the area.

 

Transportation

1. What can we do to transport children safely?

If transport vehicles, (such as buses or vans) are used by your program, drivers should practice all safety actions and protocols as indicated for other staff (e.g. hand hygiene, masks). Create distance between children on transport buses. (For example, seat children one child per row, skip rows when possible.) However, children from the same home can be seated together.

  • Children, staff, and drivers should not eat or drink during transportation.
  • Clean and disinfect each vehicle after use.
  • Keep windows open, unless it poses a safety or health risk to passengers and/or the driver.
  • Avoid using the recirculated air option for ventilation.

See the Department of Public Instruction’s Transportation Guidance for more information.

Face Coverings/Masks - Updated July 2021

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state health guidance strongly recommends children and adults who are not vaccinated wear masks and social distance indoors. In general, people do not need to wear masks when outdoors. However, particularly in areas of substantial to high transmission, CDC recommends that people age 2 and older who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people who are not fully vaccinated.

As vaccination is approved for younger children, we expect the guidance around mask wearing and social distancing will be relaxed for those age groups. 

Based on the needs of the community, ECE programs may opt to make mask use universally required (i.e., required regardless of vaccination status) in the program. Reasons for this can include:

  • Serving a population that is not yet eligible for vaccination;, which includes most ECE programs.
  • Having staff model consistent and correct mask use for children aged 2 and older.
  • Increasing or substantial or high COVID-19 transmission within the program or their surrounding community.
  • Increasing community transmission of a variant that is spread more easily among children or is resulting in more severe illness from COVID-19 among children.
  • Lacking a system to monitor the vaccine status of children and staff.
  • Difficulty monitoring or enforcing mask policies that are not universal.
  • Awareness of low vaccination uptake within families, staff, or within the community.

ECE programs should also be supportive of people who are fully vaccinated, but choose to wear a mask, as a personal choice or because they have a medical condition that may weaken their immune system. ECE programs should work to ensure their selected mask use policy does not conflict with local, state, and territorial laws, policies, and regulations.

Consideration shall be made for a person who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, because of a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.). Discuss the possibility of reasonable accommodation with workers who are not fully vaccinated and are unable to wear or have difficulty wearing certain types of masks because of a disability.

Licensing specialists will focus on providing technical assistance to programs and supporting providers during this transition. There will are no enforcement actions around mask wearing at this time. 

Note: Child care providers must be aware of and comply with local municipal, county, and tribal orders that may be more restrictive than state face covering orders.

Please contact your licensing specialist or certification worker if you have questions.

 

Care for Infants and Toddlers

1. It is impossible not to have close contact with small children.  What things should I consider when caring for very young children?

It is important to comfort crying, sad, and/or anxious infants and toddlers, and they often need to be held. To the extent possible, when washing, feeding, or holding very young children:

  • Child care providers can protect themselves by wearing an over-large button-down, long sleeved shirt and by wearing long hair up off the collar in a ponytail or other updo.
  • Child care providers should wash their hands, neck, and anywhere touched by a child’s secretions.
  • Child care providers should change the child’s clothes if secretions are on the child’s clothes. They should change the button-down shirt, if there are secretions on it, and wash their hands again.
  • Contaminated clothes should be placed in a plastic bag or washed in a washing machine.
  • Infants, toddlers, and their providers should have multiple changes of clothes on hand in the child care center or home-based child care.
  • Child care providers should wash their hands before and after handling infant bottles prepared at home or prepared in the facility. Bottles, bottle caps, nipples, and other equipment used for bottle-feeding should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized after each use.

2. How should we clean toys and materials used by children?

  • Toys that cannot be cleaned and sanitized should not be used.
  • Toys that children have placed in their mouths or that are otherwise contaminated by body secretions or excretions should be set aside immediately after use by a child until they are cleaned by hand by a person wearing gloves. Clean with water and detergent, rinse, sanitize with an EPA-registered disinfectant, rinse again, and air-dry. You may also clean in a mechanical dishwasher. Be mindful of items more likely to be placed in a child’s mouth, like play food, dishes, and utensils.
  • Machine washable cloth toys should be used by one individual at a time or should not be used at all. These toys should be laundered before being used by another child.
  • Do not share toys with other groups of infants or toddlers, unless they are washed and sanitized before being moved from one group to the other.
  • Set aside toys that need to be cleaned. Place in a dish pan with soapy water or put in a separate container marked for “soiled toys.” Keep dish pan and water out of reach from children to prevent risk of drowning. Washing with soapy water is the ideal method for cleaning. Try to have enough toys so that the toys can be rotated through cleanings.
  • Children’s books, like other paper-based materials such as mail or envelopes, are not considered a high risk for transmission and do not need additional cleaning or disinfection procedures.

 

Outbreak Guidance

1. Who do I contact if we discover a cases or cases of COVID-19 in our program?

Child care programs must report cases of COVID-19 to their local public health office. Information reported to local health departments should include:

  • Number of ill attendees and staff
  • Names and contact information
  • Onset date of illness
  • Signs and symptoms of the illness
  • Dates of attendance while ill and in the two days prior
  • Dates and results of any laboratory tests completed or pending
  • Job duties and work location(s) of any ill staff
  • Rooms or areas of the facility visited by any ill children

In addition, contact your certification worker or licensor to report this information.

2. When should children or staff not be allowed in the program?

Children and staff with a fever of 100.4° (38.0°C) or above and/or signs of illness, such as coughing or difficulty breathing, should stay home.

Local public health authorities determine and establish the quarantine options for their jurisdictions. Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department. 

Although the CDC recently released new quarantine guidance, DHS continues to recommend the full 14-day quarantine as the safest option while noting that the quarantine period may be shortened in certain circumstances. Specifically, the quarantine period may be shortened to 10 days after the date of last exposure for people who remain asymptomatic provided that they continue to monitor for symptoms, wear a mask, and physical distance for the full 14 days (recognizing that that it may be difficult for young children to meet these provisions). Quarantine may be shortened further to 7 days after the date of last exposure for people who remain asymptomatic if they receive a negative test result (PCR or antigen) that was collected on day 6 or 7 provided they continue to monitor for symptoms, wear a mask, and physical distance for the full 14 days.

3. What should be done if a child or staff starts showing symptoms of COVID-19?

Children and staff who have symptoms of infectious illness, such as influenza (flu) or COVID-19, should stay home and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care. Staying home when sick with COVID-19 is essential to keep COVID-19 infections out of programs and prevent spread to others. It also is essential for people who are not fully vaccinated to quarantine after a recent exposure to someone with COVID-19. ECE programs should also allow flexible, non-punitive, and supportive paid sick leave policies and practices that encourage sick workers to stay home without fear of retaliation, loss of pay, or loss of employment. Employers should ensure that workers are aware of and understand these policies.

The overlap between COVID-19 symptoms with other common illnesses means that some people with symptoms of COVID-19 could be ill with something else. This is even more likely in young children, who typically have multiple viral illnesses each year. Although COVID-19, colds, and flu illnesses have similar symptoms, they are different diseases. Children who have symptoms of infectious illness or certain symptoms of COVID-19 should not attend your ECE program. Encourage your families to be on the alert for signs of illness in their children and to keep them home when they are sick. Parents should pay particular attention to:

  • Fever (temperature 100.4 ºF or higher)
  • Sore throat
  • New uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing (for a child with chronic allergic/asthmatic cough, see if there is a change from their usual cough)
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, or stomachache
  • New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever

People who have a fever of 100.4 ºF (38.0 ºC) or above or other signs of illness should not be admitted to your facility.

Children who become ill must be separated in an isolated area until they are able to be picked up. A designated staff person wearing PPE should stay with the child until the family arrives. Staff who are ill should go home immediately.

If you have not already done so, consider expanding your center’s written emergency plan to address staffing shortages due to illness. Example planning checklists are available on DCF’s emergency preparedness webpage and additional resources are listed below:

4. What actions should a program take if there is exposure or a positive test result for a child or staff or of a household member in family child care?

If you have been exposed to COVID-19, you should get tested for COVID-19 3-5 days after exposure, quarantine,  and self-monitor for symptoms to protect yourself, your family, and your community. The incubation period for SAR-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can extend up to 14 days. That means you can develop symptoms of COVID-19 sometime in the 14 days after close contact with a person with COVID-19. This is why a 14-day quarantine continues to be the safest and recommended quarantine strategy.

Your ECE program should implement multiple COVID-19 prevention actions to prepare for when someone is sick with COVID-19:

  • If children or staff begin to have COVID-19 symptoms while at your facility take action to isolate people who begin to have these symptoms from other children and staff. Plan to have an isolation room or an area, preferably with access to a separate restroom, you can use to isolate a sick child or staff member. Ensure that isolated children are still under adult supervision. Arrange safe transportation home or to a healthcare facility (if severe symptoms) for the child or staff if showing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Close off areas used by a sick person and do not use these areas until after cleaning and disinfecting them; this includes surfaces or shared objects in the area, if applicable.
  • Wait at least 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible and increase ventilation in the area. You should wear PPE and ensure safe and proper use of cleaning and disinfection products, including storing products securely away from children. Wash hands after cleaning/disinfecting area.
  • See CDC’s Toolkit for Child Care Programs for more resources on what to do if a child becomes sick while at the child care program.

Local public health authorities determine and establish the quarantine options for their jurisdictions. Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department.

Children and staff who have symptoms of infectious illness, such as influenza (flu) or COVID-19, should stay home and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care. Staying home when sick with COVID-19 is essential to keep COVID-19 infections out of programs and prevent spread to others. It also is essential for people who are not fully vaccinated to quarantine after a recent exposure to someone with COVID-19. 

The length of time the child should stay out of child care depends on whether the child has COVID-19 or another illness. In most instances, those who have COVID-19 can be around others after:

  • 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
  • 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving

If you are fully vaccinated (it has been at least two weeks since you have finished your vaccine series) and you do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, you do not have to get tested or quarantine after close contact with a person with COVID-19. Continue to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days after close contact. If you develop any symptoms of COVID-19, isolate from others, contact your health care provider, and get tested.

Whether and for how long to stay home for people who have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 depends on vaccination status.

  • Children and unvaccinated staff who had close contact with someone who has (suspected or confirmed) COVID-19 should stay home (quarantine) for 14 days after their last exposure to that person. Close contact is defined as within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Some localities might choose to use testing to shorten quarantine
  • People who are fully vaccinated and do not have COVID-19 symptoms do not need to quarantine or get tested after an exposure to someone with COVID-19.
  • ECE programs should educate staff and families about when they and their children should stay home and when they can return to ECE programs.

If a child or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19, you should contact your local public health department immediately and follow their instructions.

In addition to following any instructions received from your local public health authority, if there is a case of COVID-19 among children or staff, programs should consider whether a short-term (less than one week) or long-term (one week or more) closure will allow for sufficient cleaning and disinfection. Public health can also use this time to trace close contacts of the case and determine if others could be at risk. Advantages of long-term closures must be weighed against the economic burden placed on staff and children’s families, loss of key members of the workforce, and impacts on learning. 

Assess the impacts of any decisions you make on the families you serve. The families you work with will be able to provide you the best feedback and guidance on how to move forward in a child- and family-centered way.

For family child care providers:

  • Separate a household member who is COVID-positive.
  • Provide a separate bedroom and bathroom, if possible. If you cannot provide a separate room and bathroom, try to separate them from other household members as much as possible. Keep people at higher risk separated from anyone who is symptomatic or positive.
  • If possible, have only one person in the household take care of the person who is symptomatic/positive. This caregiver should be not at higher risk for severe illness and should minimize contact with other people in the household. Identify a different caregiver for other members of the household who require help with cleaning, bathing, or other daily tasks.
  • If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is symptomatic or positive and other family or household members.
  • If you need to share a bedroom with someone who is symptomatic or positive, make sure the room has good air flow.
  • Open the window and turn on a fan to bring in and circulate fresh air if possible.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet between beds if possible.
  • Sleep head to toe.
  • Put a curtain around or place other physical divider (e.g., shower curtain, room screen divider, large cardboard poster board, quilt, or large bedspread) to separate the individual’s person’s bed.
  • If you need to share a bathroom with someone who is symptomatic or positive, the person who is symptomatic/positive should clean and disinfect the frequently touched surfaces in the bathroom after each use. If this is not possible, the person who does the cleaning should:
    • Open outside doors and windows before entering and use ventilating fans to increase air circulation in the area.
    • Wait as long as possible before entering the room to clean and disinfect or to use the bathroom.

Maintain regular communications with parents and your local public health department. It is recommended that the entire facility―not just families/staff in affected classrooms―be notified. Providing information directly to parents and staff from a credible source is less likely to cause spread of misinformation.

Although CDC provides recommendations for discontinuation of home isolation and voluntary home quarantine, local public health authorities determine and establish the quarantine options for their jurisdictions.

Be sure to contact your licensing/certification specialist to report your next steps and or any temporary closures.

5. How is “close contact” defined by public health?

CDC defines close contact within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Some localities might choose to use testing to shorten quarantine.

According to DHS, you are considered to have had close contact if any of the following situations happened while you spent time with a person with COVID-19, even if they didn’t have symptoms:

  • You were within 6 feet of a person who had COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
  • You had direct exposure to respiratory secretions (for example, being coughed or sneezed on, sharing a drinking glass, utensils, towels or other personal items).
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (for example, a hug, kiss, or handshake).
  • You cared or care for a person who has COVID-19.
  • You lived or live with a person who has COVID-19.
  • You stayed overnight with them for at least one night in the same household.

If you have been exposed to COVID-19, you should get tested for COVID-19 3-5 days after exposure, quarantine, and self-monitor for symptoms to protect yourself, your family, and your community. The incubation period for SAR-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can extend up to 14 days. That means you can develop symptoms of COVID-19 sometime in the 14 days after close contact with a person with COVID-19. This is why a 14-day quarantine continues to be the safest and recommended quarantine strategy.

If you are fully vaccinated (it has been at least two weeks since you have finished your vaccine series) and you do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, you do not have to get tested or quarantine after close contact with a person with COVID-19. Continue to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days after close contact. If you develop any symptoms of COVID-19, isolate from others, contact your health care provider, and get tested.

Options to Shorten Quarantine

Shortened quarantine options may be acceptable in some situations, but are not preferred, because they carry increased risk of transmission compared to the 14-day quarantine. However, in some situations, the potential benefits of a shortened quarantine requirement that places less burden on individuals, families, and communities may outweigh the increased risk.

Consideration for these shortened quarantine periods is only for people who do not have symptoms at any time during their quarantine period.

For close contacts who do not develop symptoms, quarantine can end:

  • 10 days after their last close contact without testing, or 
  • 7 days after their last close contact, with a negative test result (PCR or antigen) collected on day 6 or 7.

Continue to monitor for symptoms daily through day 14 of quarantine, and continue to follow public health guidelines such as wearing a mask, physical distancing, and avoiding gatherings. If you are unable to monitor for symptoms and follow public health guidelines, you should quarantine for the full 14 days.

Note: Close contacts who had a positive COVID-19 PCR test within the last 90 days (verified with local health department) and do not have symptoms, do not need to quarantine. If symptoms develop, they should follow COVID-19 isolation procedures and consult with a medical provider.

A note about masks: For contact tracing purposes, a person meeting the definition of a close contact is still considered a close contact regardless of whether the contact or the ill person was wearing a mask or cloth face covering at the time of exposure.

The definition of close contact above was developed for adults. Child care providers should extrapolate the definition to include exposures unique to the child care setting that could possibly reflect close contact or direct contact with respiratory secretions (including coughs, sneezes, saliva). When in doubt, include all exposures you think may be high risk/close contact and ask local health department staff to evaluate whether they would qualify as close contact. For example, close contact behaviors in a child care setting may include but are not limited to:

  • Infants or babies using pacifiers or mouthing toys (e.g., teethers, stacking rings, rattles, grasping toys, etc.) that are inadvertently shared with others.
  • Children quickly grabbing food off another child’s plate or grabbing a bottle, sippy cup, or glass to drink from before a caretaker realizes it has occurred.
  • Close contact associated with carpooling or center-provided transportation.

Public health and child care facility staff should use their professional judgment as to the likelihood that close contact occurred between individuals and take into consideration the child’s age and shared environments.

6. How long is someone contagious?

Infectious period:

  • The full incubation period (i.e., the period during which an exposed person is at risk for becoming infectious) is 14 days.
  • For symptomatic positive persons: the period beginning 2 days before the onset of clinical symptoms until 10 days have passed from symptom onset AND the patient has been symptom-free for 24 hours.
  • For asymptomatic positive persons: 2 days before to 10 days after specimen collection date.

7. What does quarantine mean for COVID-19?

Quarantine means the confinement of well persons who were exposed to the virus through an ill person, positive person, or a person with a positive test result but no symptoms. This confinement involves the person remaining at home and away from other people for 14 days from their last possible exposure to the virus. In this way, if they develop symptoms during that time, they will not make other people sick. During the quarantine period, they are also asked to monitor for any symptoms, check their temperature twice daily, and notify their healthcare provider and local health department if they become sick. Even if they test negative for COVID-19 during their quarantine period, they must still complete their 14-day quarantine period. This is because it can take up to 14 days from the date of last exposure to the virus to develop symptoms. 

The CDC provides recommendations for discontinuation of home isolation and voluntary home quarantine, but local public health authorities determine and establish the quarantine options for their jurisdictions.

DHS continues to recommend the full 14-day quarantine as the safest option while noting that the quarantine period may be shortened in certain circumstances. 

Note: The DHS exclusion criteria for symptomatic persons in a child care facility are more conservative compared to those used for the general public. The reason for this is because there is a higher index of suspicion that symptomatic individuals in child care facilities will have COVID-19 because of the high potential of asymptomatic spread in children. Since children and staff in child care facilities have more potential for exposure to asymptomatic infected individuals, and thus are more likely to have been exposed but not know it, DHS is asking their household contacts to quarantine.

Options to shorten quarantine

Shortened quarantine options may be acceptable in some situations, but are not preferred, because they carry increased risk of transmission compared to the 14-day quarantine. However, in some situations, the potential benefits of a shortened quarantine requirement that places less burden on individuals, families, and communities may outweigh the increased risk.

Consideration for these shortened quarantine periods is only for people who do not have symptoms at any time during their quarantine period.

For close contacts who do not develop symptoms, quarantine can end:

  • 10 days after their last close contact without testing, or 
  • 7 days after their last close contact, with a negative test result (PCR or antigen) collected on day 6 or 7.

Continue to monitor for symptoms daily through day 14 of quarantine,  and continue to follow public health guidelines such as wearing a mask, physical distancing, and avoiding gatherings. If you are unable to monitor for symptoms and follow public health guidelines, you should quarantine for the full 14 days.

A note about masks: While wearing a mask or cloth face covering does reduce the risk of transmission to others, it does not exempt an individual from quarantine. Quarantine is still recommended for individuals identified as close contacts, even if the person exposed was wearing a mask, the case-patient was wearing a mask, or both were wearing masks at the time of exposure.

8. When is it safe to allow a child or staff member to return to a child care facility after suspected COVID-19 symptoms?

If an individual has a suspected case of COVID-19, the individual must remain home for at least 10 days since the first symptoms began, be fever free without the use of fever-reducing medications for 24 hours AND with improvement of symptoms. Ideally, quarantine should be continued for the full incubation period (i.e., the period during which an exposed person is at risk for becoming infectious), which is 14 days. Contact your local public health office for guidance. Although the CDC provides recommendations for discontinuation of home isolation and voluntary home quarantine, local public health authorities determine and establish the quarantine options for their jurisdictions.

Note: Shortened quarantine duration may not be appropriate in all settings. High-risk, congregate settings such as long-term care facilities, shelters, jails and prisons must determine on a case-by-case basis whether potential benefits of shortened quarantine outweigh the risks of post-quarantine transmission. The DHS exclusion criteria for symptomatic persons in a child care facility are more conservative compared to those used for the general public. The reason for this is because there is a higher index of suspicion that symptomatic individuals in child care facilities will have COVID-19 because of the high potential of asymptomatic spread in children. Since children and staff in child care facilities have more potential for exposure to asymptomatic infected individuals, and thus are more likely to have been exposed but not know it, DHS is asking their household contacts to quarantine.

Child care programs are advised to follow DHS guidance:

Additionally, Caring for Our Children (CFOC) provides national health and safety performance standards and guidelines for early care and education programs. The Infectious Disease Chapter provides guidance and exclusion criteria for common childhood illnesses. COVID-19 Questions-CFOC Crosswalk is also available on the CFOC website.

9. What should I do if I call the public health department and don’t hear back from them?

Send an email to your local public health office that succinctly describes your question and/or report. The DHS website lists contact information for each county and Tribal Health Office.

Refer to CDC and/or DHS Public Health Department resources for guidance including, Guidelines for the Prevention, Investigation, and Control of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Child Care Settings.

See the Prevention and Outbreak FAQs above as additional guidelines that will assist you in determining your program’s ability to keep children and staff safe and healthy.

10. Must I follow the local public health department guidance or directions?

The center must cooperate with the health department to ensure all necessary measures are taken to protect the children in care.

 

Free "Thank you for wearing a mask" Posters - download and print for your facility

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) has created free "Thank you for wearing a mask" and "Wearing is caring" posters for child care providers to post in their centers. Please download as many of the posters as you like, print them, and hang them up in your facility to remind staff and visitors that face masks are required.

Child Care COVID-19 Outbreak Guidance

Preventing and controlling COVID-19 in child care settings poses unique challenges due to the nature of caring for infants and young children, which necessarily involves close contact between children and their caregivers. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) in consultation with DCF recently published Guidelines for the Prevention, Investigation, and Control of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Child Care Settings, which includes comprehensive recommendations for preventing and responding to COVID-19 in child care settings. The document also includes multiple printable resources for child care facilities to use in their own investigations and prevention activities.

Find information about recent CARES Act funding programs - Child Care Counts Payment Program.

What is being asked of me?

Please update your information in Provider Portal as soon as possible and on an ongoing basis. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) needs to know whether your center is open or closed, and for providers that are open, the number of slots you have open and the ages of kids that can be served. Accurate information from you helps us keep the Available Child Care Map updated and helps assist parents in finding child care in their communities. The Provider Portal allows you to enter all of this information and more.

 

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