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Information for Child Care Providers - Responding to COVID19

On Wednesday May 13, Governor Walz Governor signed Executive Order 20-56 to Safely Reopen Minnesota’s Economy and Ensuring Safe Non-Work Activities during COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency. More information about this order can be found here. We continue to encourage you to prioritize children of workers in Critical Businesses and beyond.

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

Public Health Guidance for Open Providers
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. As testing continues to ramp up 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.

Updated guidance from the MDH and CDC, including exclusionary guidance and masking social stories are below:

Access the recording of the May 26 conference call with Department of Health School and Child Care Liaisons in partnership with Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Department of Human Services (DHS), Department of Education (MDE) and the Children’s Cabinet (available here).

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

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. 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.

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:

Child Care Grants:

  • Governor Walz signed into law a COVID-19 Response Package, which includes $30 million in financial support to organizations licensed to provide child care to children of emergency responders that is administered by Child Care Aware of Minnesota. Applications for the Peacetime Emergency Childcare Grants for licensed providers serving essential workers are now being accepted. Selected applicants will receive an award on a month-to-month basis starting at $4,500, with additional $1,000 available for programs providing non-standard hours care, care for children whose first language is not English, and/or who have special needs. Providers that are licensed to serve 15 or more children will be eligible for an additional amount of up to $15,500 per month. An FAQ for the Peacetime Emergency Childcare Grants is available at this link.
  • There are private organizations offering grants to child care providers during the peacetime emergency. The Minnesota Initiative Foundations is offering grants to child care programs in Greater Minnesota and Think Small is offering grants to eligible licensed family child care programs in the seven-county metropolitan area. More information is available here.

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:

Under the Governor’s Emergency Executive Order 20-12, the Minnesota Department of Human Services has temporary authority to waive or modify requirements so that the agency and its partners can continue to provide essential programs and services to Minnesotans safely and without undue delay during the COVID-19 pandemic. A list of all waivers and modifications currently in effect is available here. This list will be updated as necessary. For detailed information see the April 17, 2020 Child Care Assistance Program Waivers-Provider Memo.

Early Learning Scholarships Program

MDE will ensure children and programs who receive early learning scholarships will continue being served and funded. Please see guidance below.

  • Absent days will not be counted towards the 25 maximum absent days 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), but effective 3/16/2020, will not be counted towards the maximum number of absent days until further notice. Families will not need to submit a medical exemption form.
  • Programs that temporarily closes due to response to COVID-19 mitigation, regardless of program type, will have closure days waived for the duration of the crisis. Programs receiving Pathway II funds can continue to request payment for the slot in the same frequency and manner they previously requested. Programs receiving Pathway I scholarships may continue to invoice the Area Administrators. All program types that make the decision to close as a measure to help control the spread of COVID-19 may have closure days waived from the current maximum, effective until further notice. For closures, programs should enter their original number of scheduled days and enter the number of closure days on the Invoice Form and in the Early Learning Scholarships Administration (ELSA) system. Children should not be reported as absent during a closure day.
  • As funds allow, a child’s scholarship temporarily may be increased if the program regularly attended closes, and the child attends another eligible program as back-up. 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. This would allow some children to have more than $7,500 for the current scholarship year. 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. ELSA procedures for paying two programs are yet to be determined; Area Administrators will receive specific instruction from MDE program staff as applicable once available.


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 here


Governor Walz’s Executive Order 20-19  instructs that “no supplier or business should limit or restrict reasonable orders of cleaning, hygiene, and sanitation supplies by child care providers who are serving children of parents working in critical sectors.” 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 Summer Programing Health Guidance
On May 14th, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-57 directing schools to provide summer school to support students in need of continuity of learning, reinforcement of learning, or remediation of learning through a hybrid or distance learning model.  In addition, school-age care and other youth programming are allowed to open and serve children if they are able to follow public health guidance including social distancing.

The Minnesota Department of Health released public health guidance outlining how to safely operate youth and student programming and summer school. 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

Access a recording of a webinar regarding youth programming public health guidance here. The 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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