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Information for Child Care Providers - Responding to COVID19

NOTIFY US THAT YOU ARE OPEN. Please regularly update your capacity to serve children by completing this survey.


This section applies specifically to licensed child care settings. If you are looking for public health and related guidance for schools, youth programs, camps, sports or other programs, please visit this website.

Public Health Guidance for Open Providers (reviewed weekly for most recent updates) 

Open child care providers must adhere to this public health guidance, which includes health and safety best practices to operate your child care program during the pandemic. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, it is critical that child care programs are implementing public health strategies. On July 22nd Governor Walz signed Executive Order 20-81 requiring Minnesotans to wear a face covering in certain settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 with specific guidance for face coverings and shields in child care settings. As COVID-19 cases increase in Minnesota, we are identifying more cases among child care staff and children, and providers with these key practices in place are more likely to prevent exposure. Child care providers should take time to review and reinforce their COVID-19 prevention measures including:

  • Pay close attention to maintaining closed classroom groups that include the same children and staff each day and, whenever possible, ensure classroom groups do not mix.
  • Staff should also be mindful not to congregate outside of assigned classrooms to prevent the risk of transmission between groups.
  • Providers should also remain alert to any potential symptoms of illness, even those that appear very mild, among staff and children.
  • It is critical that exclusion policies for ill individuals are strictly enforced.

Additionally, updated guidance related to exclusionary guidance, face coverings, playgrounds and other resources are listed below.

  • Training recording, questions and answers, and the Decision Tree clarification memo
  • Continuing education information for child care providers

During the October 12th provider call, we experienced a technology failure and are unable to share a recording of the call. A written summary of the call is now available. Thank you for your understanding.

For specific health questions regarding care settings, reach out to the MDH school and childcare team at

Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

Minnesota’s Early Childhood Mental Health System is offering support to licensed childcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Childcare sites may participate in up to 5 sessions of Mental Health Consultation with an option of up to 1 year if Parent Aware Enrolled.  Mental Health Consultation focuses on building the childcare provider’s capacity to support children’s social-emotional development. This includes a combination of training, supported skill building,  active listening, exploration of the childcare provider's/teacher's attitudes and beliefs about situations, and problem solving. More details are included in the flyer. 


We understand the pandemic is a challenge for child care providers to remain in compliance with licensing standards. To provide flexibility, mitigate the spread of the virus, and protect everyone’s health and safety, the Minnesota Department of Humans Services has waived certain licensing regulatory actions and extended licenses that would otherwise expire. Information about all of the waivers and new modifications added earlier this week can be found  

On Monday August 31, DHS announced the following temporary modifications to Licensing and Certification Procedures to meet need for additional school-age care:

Executive Order 20-74, signed by Governor Walz on June 5, 2020, requires all critical businesses that were allowed to operate during the recent “stay at home” orders to develop and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan (“Plan”) that describes how your business will implement specific health and safety practices in compliance with MDH and CDC guidelines. The Licensing Division worked with the Department of Labor and Industry to create guidance and templates for the following provider groups: child care; residential services, and nonresidential services. These documents are available on the Licensing Division’s COVID-19 website.

If you have questions related to your license, resources, or want other information, you may call the Department of Human Services child care provider hotline at 1-888-234-1268 

TESTING. On Monday, Aug. 31, DHS sent a communication to licensed child care programs with unique URLs to access a free saliva testing kit, an employee communication template, a FAQ on saliva testing for child care, and a patient instructions sheet from Vault Health. We will share more information on the saliva testing on the provider call on Sept. 14. In the meantime, if you have too many or too few codes or did not receive your codes reach out to If you are having trouble with your URL or have technical questions about the testing process, contact Vault Health at or 800-800-5698. This website includes information on testing. Child care providers and educators providing care for children who are symptomatic are on the state's priority list for COVID-19 testing. You may also check this COVID-19 Community Testing page to stay up to date on locations and dates for new community testing sites, as well as following this guidance on specific information for child care providers.  

Paid Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

FINANCIAL SUPPORTS. In addition to child care specific funding available, there are a number of federal and state resources available to child care providers as small businesses. Documents to help support you in finding these resources are available:

COVID-19 Public Health Support Funds for Child Care

Applications opened at 8 a.m. Monday, Oct. 5, and will close at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14. Eligible licensed family child care providers, licensed child care centers and certified centers received an email with a link to the application and attestation. Emails were sent to the authorized agent for child care centers, the center operator for certified child care centers, and the license holder for family child care providers. Providers will have the option to decline the funds if they do not want to receive them. To be eligible, the provider’s license or certification must be in good standing and they must not have been found responsible for fraud.

To ensure eligible providers receive the link to the application, add and to your email client safe-sender list. The application will be sent from and the application receipt confirmation email will be sent from . Follow these instructions on how to add a sender to your safe lender list.

After adding the email addresses to your safe sender lists, if you have not received the link to apply, please contact Child Care Aware of Minnesota at 651-290-9704 or  An FAQ is also available for review. 

 Economic and Employment Programs: The status of these federal programs are changing – and may be closed – based on availability of federal dollars appropriated by Congress. Please check here for current status. Refer to the Child Care Financial Support Matrix for additional information and resources on these and other child care provider financial support programs.

  • Child care providers may also be eligible for business loans, including the Federal Small Business Administration COVID 19 Disaster Loans
  • The federal Coronavirus Aid, Response and Economic Security Act has provisions that expand the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (allows a $10k grant upfront regardless if you take a loan – apply at and the new Paycheck Protection Program (with certain conditions can be forgiven; apply directly through participating lenders), for which providers may be eligible. 
  • SBA Resource Partners are available to help with no-cost, one-on-one business counseling regarding COVID-19.
  • The Children’s Cabinet collaborated with the Small Business Administration (SBA) Minnesota District Office to host an outreach event for child care providers at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 17. The webinar included an overview of financial and other business supports available through the SBA and information on how to apply for the PPP, the recent changes to the program, and information for those who access PPP on meeting the forgiveness criteria. You will find a summary of the changes to PPP in this clear article by Forbes. The webinar was recorded.The deadline to apply for the PPP was extended by Congress to August 8. 

Child Care Assistance Program:

On Wednesday, September 2, DHS shared new information for Child Care Assistance Providers. This new information is related to authorizing and paying for school-age children in child care due to distance or hybrid learning and policies for young children whose parents delay kindergarten entrance. A list of all waivers and modifications currently in effect is available here. This list will be updated as necessary. 

Early Learning Scholarships Program

MDE will ensure children and programs who receive early learning scholarships will continue being served and funded. MDE has updated guidance effective October 1, 2020 related to modification of Early Learning Scholarship policies due to the impact of COVID-19.

  • Absent days will not be counted towards the 25 maximum absent day policy in order for families to make individual decisions that are best for their families. Absent days should be reported on invoice forms and in the Early Learning Scholarship Administration System (ELSA) will not be counted towards the maximum number of absent days until further notice. Families will not need to submit a medical exemption form. Effective October 1, 2020, for Pathway I scholarships, families shall inform the area administrator about their plans at least every 30 days until the child returns to the program. Area Administrators will send a COVID-19 Absent Day Exemption Policy Letter once, to the family that confirms the family’s intent, and informs the family how their scholarship will continue to be used. Parents of children enrolled in a program with a Pathway II scholarship shall inform their program of their intent at least every 30 days until the child returns to the program. 
  • Effective October 1, 2020, programs may request a paid closure period of up to 30 days to do any procedures they need in order to reopen safely. MDE can consider an extension not to exceed an additional 30 days as needed based on local data and circumstances. Payment would only be considered if they close their program due to COVID-19 with intent to reopen. Scholarship payment will not be made to a program if they are open, but due to capacity limitations, are not serving the scholarship child. Public programs shall follow MDE and or Head Start federal guidance for distance learning during this period of time and may switch to a different learning model rather than closing. Programs requesting payment for a closure period should inform the Area Administrator of their intent to close and the start date via the Program Closure survey: Early Learning Scholarships – COVID-19 Paid Closure Survey. Pathway II school-based and Head Start programs should send an e-mail to with the closure start date, and continue to follow the ELSA procedure for recording closure days. Programs that close and will continue to request scholarship payment must clearly communicate to their enrolled families with scholarships so families are aware of the impact on their scholarship. 
  • As funds allow, a child’s scholarship temporarily may be increased if the regularly attended program closes, and the child attends a secondary eligible program as back-up. This policy modification would allow some children to have more than the maximum award for the current scholarship year. This will reduce the risk of the first program losing revenue and the family losing funds from their scholarship if used at a program they are unable to attend. This may be a particular need for health care or emergency workers. MDE will work with Area Administrators to maximize the use of all funding to support this action. MDE will provide Area Administrators modified planning forms to support this effort to ensure the new program being used is set up for payment. Area Administrators should follow the guidance previously provided for paying two programs at the same time.  Please note: This policy modification does not include any updates since it became effective on March 16, 2020.


Governor Walz’s Executive Order 20-82 instructs that “no supplier or business should limit or restrict reasonable orders of personal protective equipment or cleaning, hygiene, or sanitation supplies by child care providers who are serving Eligible Children”. Please share this language with local stores and suppliers and if you are aware of violations, please email

Additional Supports:

  • Local Emergency Operations Centers are prepared to help child care providers find cleaning product and supplies in the community. The link to these contacts is available here.
  • CUB/UNFI is willing to help and has created a tailored process to support you (thank you CUB/UNFI!). Please read this document for information on how to contact your local store for orders.
  • The Minnesota Department of Education issues ongoing Nutrition Program Bulletins with time sensitive information and updated technical assistance and program guidance on their Food and Nutrition COVID 19 Resources page. For information on meal pattern waivers, see this Q & A and this application. You may submit questions to

Youth and Student Programming Health Guidance 

The Minnesota Department of Health released public health guidance outlining how to safely operate youth and student programming. The health and safety of children, students, teachers, staff and families is our top priority. If a program cannot adhere to the public health guidance and operate safely, the program cannot operate at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More resources are available on the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites. If you have questions you can call the MDH COVID-19 School and Child Care Hotline at 651-297-1304 and 1-800-657-3504. Review the guidance for supporting distance and hybrid learners as you prepare to include students in your program.

Access a recording of a webinar regarding youth programming public health guidance here. The WebEx recording will load in a separate player window.


Additional information related to state guidance on operating and prioritizing the health, safety, and security of yourself, your staff, and the children and families in your care for is below.


The information provided here reflects the coordinated efforts of the Governor's Children's Cabinet, the Department of Education, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Health, Minnesota Management and Budget, and other agencies' expertise. Coordinated efforts are ongoing and information will continue to be updated as circumstances change.

Almost 4,000 family and center-based child care providers have already informed us that they are currently able to continue providing care for children of emergency and essential workers during this time. We are sharing this information with Child Care Aware of Minnesota as well as in the map and data on the family version of this site. You can add yourself to this list or update your status at any time by completing this form. It will take approximately 24 hours for provider information to populate on the map below. Workers with young children ages 0-12 who call 1.888.291.9811 will be directed to these providers.

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