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Information for Child Care Providers - Responding to COVID19

NOTIFY US THAT YOU ARE OPEN. Please regularly update your capacity, enrollment, and openings to serve children by using the Update Tool.

 

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 and MDH guidance until the end of the peacetime emergency (see DHS waivers CV 25 and CV 26). MDH's face covering guidance for child care settings must also be followed through the earlier of June 30, 2021 or 70% of the 16+ population in Minnesota has been vaccinated. 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.

Additional guidance:

If you have a positive case in your program, follow the guidance in What To Do When Notified of a Lab-Confirmed Case of COVID-19 in Child Care Settings and Youth Programs, and complete the survey, marking medium or high priority if you have questions, concerns or need assistance with contact tracing. The Children’s Cabinet will continue to support providers in getting their questions answered. Health related questions can be sent to health.schools.covid19@state.mn.us. All other questions related to child care and COVID-19 should be directed to childrenscabinet.mmb@state.mn.us. 
 
A recording of the June child care provider call is now available. We will not host a call in July and are evaluating the need to hold future calls.

Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

Minnesota’s Early Childhood Mental Health System is offering support to licensed child care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Child care 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 child care provider's/teacher's attitudes and beliefs about situations, and problem solving. More details are included in the flyer. 

CHILD CARE LICENSING

We understand that during the pandemic it may be  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 temporarily modified certain requirements for licensed family child care, child care centers and certified child care centers related to guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as certain state licensing and certification requirements. 

As the peacetime emergency continues, it is important that providers take steps to come back into compliance with annual and ongoing training requirements. DHS Licensing recently sent out announcements to child care license and certification holders to resume most annual and other ongoing training starting January 1, 2021. 

Because training requirements are different for licensed child care centers, licensed family child care providers, and certified child care centers, DHS and county licensors will be monitoring for compliance differently. We encourage you to read the emails DHS sent to providers on November 25, 2020 carefully. More information about this waiver and other licensing waivers that are still in effect is on the Licensing COVID-19 website

REQUIRED COVID-19 PREPAREDNESS PLAN

Businesses, including child care programs, must continue to have and implement a written COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. Child care programs can continue to follow their current COVID-19 Preparedness Plan or update their plan to align with the more limited requirements listed in the COVID-19 Universal Guidance for All Businesses and Entities: https://staysafe.mn.gov/assets/covid19-universal-guidance-for-all-businesses-and-entities_tcm1152-480317.pdf

TESTING. As COVID-19 continues to spread, Minnesota is continually expanding testing options and working to remove barriers so each and every Minnesotan can access testing. Experts agree that testing is a critical part of the process to identify, contain and stop the spread of the virus – this is especially true of younger Minnesotans (18 to 35) who are more likely to be asymptomatic (i.e., have no symptoms) and spread the disease unknowingly. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Administration has collaborated to prioritize child care providers who have been on the front lines since the beginning of this pandemic - coming to work every single day and risking virus exposure to care for and educate our youngest Minnesotans, responding to community needs and ensuring we have the workforce needs for our emergency response. 

COVID-19 testing information and locations can be found on mn.gov/covid19. Minnesota has opened testing sites across the state that are available at this site. Appointments are recommended to decrease wait times but walk-ins welcome. We encourage Minnesotans to regularly utilize these testing sites regardless of whether you have symptoms. Minnesota also offers free, at-home No-Cost COVID-19 Saliva Testing For All Minnesotans through Vault Health. A testing flyer is available to display or print for staff and families in your program. 

Clarification on Testing and Asymptomatic Individuals: As the state promotes “no barrier” testing events across the state, it is important to note that Minnesotans who are not symptomatic, not living in a household with a symptomatic individual, and not a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, do not need to stay home or be quarantined while awaiting testing results. 

COVID-19 Vaccine

All Minnesotans 12 years of age and older are eligible to receive the vaccine.

How to get your vaccine:

  • Sign up for the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector. The Vaccine Connector will inform you about vaccine opportunities in your area. 
  • Use the Vaccine Locator Map to find vaccine providers near you.
  • Contact your primary health care provider or a local pharmacy.
  • Vaccine Connector users may also be randomly selected to make an appointment at one of the state’s COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program sites. If you are selected, you will be notified by text, email, or phone call by one of the state vaccination partners running those sites: Vault Health, Primary Bio or SpeciaLysts (Solv). 
  • Your employer may also reach out with information about vaccination opportunities.
  • Visit this page to learn more about COVID-19 Vaccine including recommendations for those who are fully vaccinated. 
 

Paid Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) required certain employers to provide employees with emergency paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19, including for up to 12 weeks in certain circumstances when an employee is unable to work because their child's child care or school is closed or they have to care for a child or qualifying family member for reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions were effective through December 31, 2020 and starting January 1 will no longer be required of public or private employers. However, the federal COVID-19 relief package signed into law on December 27 did extend the refundable tax credit for paid sick and family leave for eligible private-sector employers and self-employed individuals that voluntarily provide qualifying leave through September 30, 2021. 

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

Funding Period

Email sent to providers with Application Link to Apply

Application Opens

Application Closes at 4:00 pm

May 1- 31, 2021            

June 1, 2021* June 1, 2021* June 10, 2021


*Application period adjusted due to the May 31 holiday

Public Health Support Funds for Child Care will continue through May. All providers should review the FAQ before completing the application and carefully read the Application and Attestation. There are some modifications to the requirements, specifically that programs must agree to use all or a portion of these funds to continue to pay for responsibilities/tasks related to public health guidance implementation, as well as the salaries and wages of staff. This includes incentives; overtime or additional pay for the licensed provider and/or staff working in the program, including a self-employed family child care provider; and/or to pay staff that may be furloughed or on reduced work hours due to reduced operating capacity or reasons related to COVID-19. To reiterate, at least a portion of the funds must be used for wages, incentives, or overtime for staff and/or the licensed provider. Due to limited funding currently available, April and May payment amounts will be reduced, refer to the FAQ for more information. On March 11, President Biden signed into law an additional federal stimulus package, called the American Rescue Plan, that included $24 billion in child care stabilization funds and $15 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant. The new law provides Minnesota with $324 million for Child Care Stabilization Grants. The Child Care Stabilization Grant program will have different requirements than the Public Health Support Funds for Child Care, and a start date for the program has not yet been determined. The Minnesota Department of Human Services is actively engaging and planning as staff continue to learn about federal requirements that come along with these funds. Additionally, both the Minnesota House and Senate have introduced bills on how to allocate these funds, which would provide direction for the department. Once it receives direction, the department will provide updates about the plans for these funds.

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 Assistance Program:

A list of all waivers and modifications currently in effect is available here. This list will be updated as necessary. Memos for Child Care Assistance Program providers are on the Department of Human Services page: Information on COVID-19 for Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) Providers.

Early Learning Scholarships Program

MDE will ensure children and programs who receive state early learning scholarships continue to be served and funded. Visit this webpage for COVID-19 Guidance for Early Learning Scholarships. 

Summer Preschool Program

Governor Tim Walz announced a plan to fund enhanced summer learning programs in Minnesota to help students recover from the learning challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.  This plan includes $20 million to provide summer preschool for children who were age 4 or 5 on Sept. 1, 2020 and have not yet attended kindergarten.

This Summer Preschool Funding is now available for school districts, charter schools with authorized early childhood programs, Head Start programs, and Parent Aware Three- and Four-Star rated child care programs. The purpose of Summer Preschool Funding is to support children before they enter kindergarten, and specifically those who have experienced life circumstances that may have prevented them from being able to attend a high-quality early childhood program due to COVID-19. Complete the online application here: 2021 Summer Preschool Application - Child Care. The Summer Preschool Application opens Monday, May 24, 2021, and closes on Wednesday, June 2, 2021, at 11:59 p.m.

More information, including a Frequently Asked Questions document, can be found on the MDE Early Learning Services webpage. Email ELS@state.mn.us with questions.

FOOD AND NUTRITION PROGRAM

The Minnesota Department of Education issues ongoing Nutrition Program Bulletins with time sensitive information, updated technical assistance and program guidance on the Food and Nutrition COVID-19 Resources webpage. For information on meal pattern flexibilities, see the Menus and Meal Patterns section of this Q&A and the Meal Pattern Flexibility Waiver Application Request Form sponsors can use to apply for a meal pattern waiver. Questions can be sent to mde.fns@state.mn.us

COVID-19 Prevention Guidance for Certified Child Care, Youth Programs and Camps

The Minnesota Department of Health released public health guidance outlining how to safely operate certified child care centers, youth programs and camps. The health and safety of children, students, teachers, staff and families is our top priority. 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 email youth.staysafemn@state.mn.us. 

OTHER LINKS

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.

ABOUT THE INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE

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.

Thousands 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 the Update ToolThis map is updated weekly. Families with young children ages 0-12 who call 1.888.291.9811 will be directed to these providers.

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