Divisions of Early Care and Learning | Frequently Asked Questions, COVID-19

  • General and Operational Questions

    The Safer at Home Executive Order (EO) prohibits public gatherings of 10 or more people. Does that mean that no more than 10 children, or 10 people overall, can be in one area of a child care facility? 

    We appreciate all the input and perspectives shared on this topic by so many providers across the state. In the past few days, the Governor’s Office, CDPHE and CDHS have convened and determined that the guidance is “No more than 10 children should be in one group in a child care facility. This does not include staff.” 

    Groups of 10 children and their caregivers/teachers should remain consistent each day, for the entirety of the day, with providers doing everything they can to maintain the same consistent  groups for the duration of the Safer at Home order.  


    How long will the group size of 10 limit be in place? 

    CDPHE does not have an end date for the limit of 10 children in a group at this time. The Department continues to work closely with CDPHE to determine when current regulations can be lifted, while still ensuring the safety of children and staff in child care facilities. The limit of 10 children not only helps to slow the community spread of COVID-19, it also helps limit children’s exposure while in child care.


    Do the group sizes of 10 apply to common areas?

    Yes, the group size of 10 children applies to common areas.  There is the possibility to have more than one consistent group of 10 in a common area as long as physical distancing (6 feet between each child and minimum of 36 square feet per child) can be accommodated.


    Given the group size limits, are there shortages of available care as people go back to work? Will the state temporarily approve child care spaces in churches and schools on an emergency basis?

    CDHS continues to closely monitor supply and demand. In instances where supply has been an issue, CDHS has prioritized reopening existing, licensed child care in a variety of settings to meet the demand. Alternative spaces are considered if no licensed space is available.  

    What should child care providers do when a child ages out of a classroom since children are required to stay with a consistent group?

    In an effort to support children, families and facilities, the Department is allowing a 6-month extension for children to remain in one classroom to ensure children are staying with a consistent group. A waiver is not needed, but please notify your Licensing Specialist.

    For example, when a child in the infant room turns 18 months old, they can remain in the infant classroom until they are 24 months old, or when a child in the toddler classroom turns 36 months old, they can remain in the toddler classroom until they turn 3.5 years old. 

    Family Child Care Home with an Infant/Toddler license may care for children until 3 years 6 months under this age extension.

    Is it possible to place a partition in a classroom to allow for multiple groups of children?

    Due to safety reasons, such as fire safety, access to exits (egress) and toilet facilities, and the required 6 feet of space between children to maintain social distancing, the use of partitions in classrooms is not approved at this time. 

    However, providers may:

    • Use large spaces such as a gymnasium or cafeteria for a classroom for groups of 10 children that are consistent from day to day to the extent possible. If the space is large enough to allow for social distancing (6 feet between each child and minimum of 36 square feet per child), more than one stable group could be in the space at the same time as long as there is adequate space between groups and safe egress is not compromised.  

    • Use a space that has already been approved by licensing but does not have an assigned group of children. These spaces include but are not limited to multipurpose rooms, gross motor rooms, art rooms, music rooms, etc. 

    CDHS requires permanent indoor classrooms unless there is designated indoor space meeting the social distancing requirements assigned to this group of children in the event of inclement weather.
     

    The guidance for child care facilities operating under Safer at Home says that curbside pick up and drop off is the only option. If our facilities can keep the number of people in a room under 10, do we still need to use only curbside pick up and drop off? 

    Providers should consider implementing curbside dropoff and pickup or an alternative approach that ensures physical distancing and does not allow parents to congregate in one area during drop off or pick up. According to CDPHE, curbside pick up is one of the best ways to reduce the number of people from congregating. However, not every child care facility can accommodate this practice without jeopardizing the safety of children. Using separate entrances, social distancing signage and taping off six-foot increments for parents waiting to drop off kids, as well as staggering drop off and pick up times are all allowable options to centers.  Child care programs should work with their licensing specialist or local public health agency if they need specific recommendations.

    What about guidance for summer camps?

    Guidance for Summer Camps can be found here. 

    Is the guidance in the Safer at Home EO recommended or required? 

    The public health order implements the requirements from Executive Order D 2020 044 Safer at Home, and the guidance materials then provide additional explanation.  Reading the public health order carefully will provide a better understanding of what is required, and unless the terms used are optional, such as may, urged or encouraged, the actions listed in the public health order are required.


    What do child care providers need to know related to the state-wide stay-at-home order?

    Child care is considered one of the essential services under the state-wide stay-at-home order, and can continue to operate. For more information on the order click here

    The guidance from CDPHE communicated on March 26th on the CDHS provider webinar is being corrected. Under the statewide public health order, existing child care providers may continue to care for families whether they are included in the "critical business section" or not. The choice to continue to serve any family is up to each provider. CDHS is encouraging any provider to take children of those deemed critical as a top priority. 

    Local public health guidance may differ, so always consult with your local public health agency if you have questions.


    How should child care providers determine if they should close?

    On March 18, 2020, the Governor issued an executive order that required all schools in Colorado to “suspend normal, in-person instruction” from March 23 to April 17. This includes public preschools on public school campuses. 

    The executive order also directed local public health agencies to work with child care providers and preschools not operated by P-12 schools to determine if it is safe to continue operations.

    Note that Amended Executive Order D 2020 035 has changed the minimum time period a child care facility must close if there is a positive or suspected case of COVID-19 in a student, parent of a student, or staff member at the facility from 72 hours to 24 hours. During this closure a facility should conduct a thorough cleaning as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

    According to CDPHE, open child care facilities must ensure the guidelines provided by the CDC and CDPHE are implemented to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Both the CDC and CDPHE continue to update their webpages with guidance on cleaning, preparedness, closure and much more. These public health resources remain the best source of information to ensure the safety of children and staff. 


    What cleaning procedures should child care providers follow to help limit the spread of COVID-19?

    Facilities should follow cleaning procedures as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This resource remains the best source of information to ensure the safety of children and staff. 
     

    Should children and providers wear masks and gloves in child care facilities? 

    Updated information from CDPHE regarding masks in child care facilities can be found on their page related to schools and child care facilities

    Public Health Order 20 26 requires workers in critical businesses (including child care) to wear non-medical face coverings while working, and provides additional guidance on the use of gloves. More information is available here
     

    Where can child care programs get personal protective equipment (PPE)?

    The Department ordered 33,000 masks for child care staff and has partnered with the Early Childhood Councils to distribute these and other supplies to providers. They should be available the first week of May. Child care programs should reach out to their local Early Childhood Council to obtain masks.


    How can providers access needed supplies that may be hard to purchase at this time?

    Essential baby supplies, including formula, diapers and baby wipes, are being distributed to local Family Resource Centers and food banks throughout Colorado. These regional locations will help arrange the distribution of supplies to child care providers and families in need. If you are in need of these items, please click here to find the contact information for the local distribution site closest to you.
     

    Is food assistance available?

    Yes. Providers can access food assistance through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). More information is available here.   

    If you are a Family Child Care Home, please view the CACFP Cost  Help for Family Child Care Homes flyer.

    For a list of CACFP sponsors in your area (you will need to contact a sponsor to apply) click HERE.
     

    Can mothers nurse in child care program buildings?

    Nursing mothers should be accommodated as much as possible.  A quiet space away from other children that also can provide social distancing should be provided. CDC guidance to promote and support breastfeeding is available here.   


    Where can I find updates on COVID-19 and learn more about how to respond to the virus?

    For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Colorado please visit the State’s COVID-19 website, covid19.colorado.gov.

    Any questions or concerns surrounding COVID-19 should be directed to CDPHE's Colorado Health Emergency Line for the Public (CO HELP)  at 303.389.1687 or 1.877.462.2911, for answers in many languages, or COHELP@RMPDC.org for answers in English.
  • Questions Related to Child Care

    Is the Office of Early Childhood accepting emergency waivers to expand capacity or group size? 

    The Department may waive certain licensing requirements for providers offering emergency child care if it will not endanger the public health, welfare or safety. These emergency waivers will be evaluated on a case by case basis. 


    What do I do if one of my trainings or certifications is due to expire in the next month or two? 

    CPR/FIRST AID Training - This guidance is from the American Heart Association Training Network on card expirations and extensions during COVID-19 outbreak.

    On March 13, the American Heart Association (AHA) released interim guidance recommending that employers and regulatory bodies consider extending CPR and First Aid card expiration dates by an additional 120 days.  The Office of Early Childhood will honor this extension and will allow for the additional 120 days for all Department approved CPR/ First Aid certificates expiring on March 1st or later.  

    Medication Administration Course - The Office of Early Childhood has been in discussion with Healthy Child Care Colorado regarding an extension on the Medication Administration Training. The OEC will be extending the Department approved Medication Administration Training expiration dates by an additional 120 days. All certificates expiring March 19 or later will have the 120 days extension. Programs should work with their nurse consultant on delegation if they have further questions.  

    Health Statements - The Office of Early Childhood will also be granting a 120 day extension on all staff and children’s health statements that will be expiring on March 19 or later.

    What if my other training is expired? At this time, all other required courses that are available are free and online on the Colorado Shines Early Childhood Professional (PDIS) website. The Department is not extending expiration dates for these required trainings or for general professional development at this time.

    Can my Child Care Health Consultant visit my program remotely during the Safer at Home period? 

    Yes, this is strongly recommended. Child Care Health Consultants are encouraged to visit programs remotely using TeleHealth or other video-based consulting services. 


    Is the Office of Early Childhood still conducting fingerprinting and background checks? 

    Fingerprinting with Colorado Fingerprinting and IDEMIA is still continuing at this time. They are monitoring staffing needs daily and are adjusting as necessary. Due to the temporary suspension of fingerprinting at some locations, at this time it is best for individuals needing fingerprinting to reach out directly to the specific fingerprinting agency for the most up to date information. 

    Colorado Fingerprinting (833) 224-2227 OR (720) 292-2722 or IDEMIA (855) 845-7434 
  • Questions Related to the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP)

    What are individual county policies regarding CCCAP?

    View a link here to learn more about policies in each county. 
     

    What is happening with CCCAP funding? Will counties be able to continue to pay providers who decided to close? 

    The Governor has issued an executive order that directs CDHS to access additional federal Child Care Development Funds to reimburse counties that pay providers through the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) for absences or closures as a result of COVID-19. The Governor has also encouraged counties to continue to fund CCCAP child care centers who are experiencing low attendance or temporary closures to ensure consistency for child care providers and to protect the vital role they play for children and families. The Department has identified funding for these provisions through June 2020, with the possibility of extension if the outbreak continues. 


    If a county wants to temporarily change its policy to accommodate the needs of providers and families in their community, what should they do? 

    Counties can submit a new County Rate Plan in CHATS or send an email to Tamara Schmidt, CCCAP Director at Tamara.Schmidt@state.co.us that provides a detailed explanation of what will be implemented and the effective dates.

    Are counties able to provide incentives to providers using CCQI money? If so, how would they access those funds?

    Incentive payments for providers are not allowed but a county can choose to transfer county TANF reserves to child care quality to provide support to providers for supplies or other necessary needs. This would be done through a quality transfer request
  • Questions Related to the Early Childhood Councils

    How will the state and OEC ensure they communicate Colorado Shines updates to councils that support local programs?

    The Office of Early Childhood will continue to send regular communications and updates via the Weekly ECC and CCR&R newsletter and additional notices as needed. In addition, the QRIS team will be implementing regular check-in calls with councils. Please reach out to your QRIS Coordinator for more information.  


    If a provider chooses to stay open and children and/or families become ill are they legally liable? 

    Because child care programs have different liability coverage, providers are encouraged to talk with their insurance carriers to determine what their specific policy covers.   


    Where should I direct families who are in need of child care? 

    Early Childhood Councils should encourage families that have child care needs to contact Colorado Shines Child Care Referral using any of the following methods: 

     


    How can providers access needed supplies that may be hard to purchase at this time?

    Essential baby supplies, including formula, diapers and baby wipes, are being distributed to local Family Resource Centers and food banks throughout Colorado. These regional locations will help arrange the distribution of supplies to child care providers and families in need. If you are in need of these items, please click here to find the contact information for the local distribution site closest to you.


    Will changes be made to CCCAP reimbursements for providers to support providers if children aren’t attending?  

    The decision to reimburse CCCAP child care providers for additional absences is determined by County Human Services Departments. The Colorado Department of Human Services and the Office of Early Childhood are encouraging counties to maintain expanded absence payments through the month of June for all licensed providers, this would include providers that are open to care for children or providers that have had to close temporarily.

    We also want to encourage county offices to gather information from child care providers that have not yet reopened regarding if they intend to reopen in the coming weeks.  The Department recommends that as of July 1, 2020 expanded absences only be paid to providers that have reopened to provide child care services to CCCAP families unless the county has identified that a child care provider has extenuating circumstances hindering their ability to reopen in July.   
     

These FAQs are current as of May 28, 2020. Questions and answers may be changed and updated daily as new information becomes available. The newest updates are listed below. Please check back frequently for updates.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, we are asking that all licensed child care providers register their current operating status with the Department as soon as possible. This includes whether you are open or temporarily closed, as well as other information about open operating capacity such as classroom and available staff. You can register your current status on the Colorado Shines website here.

Click here to find a link to the OEC's April 23, 2020 webinar on business support for child care providers, along with additional resources

New 5/28/2020

What about guidance for summer camps?

Guidance for Summer Camps can be found here. 

How will the state and OEC ensure they communicate Colorado Shines updates to councils that support local programs?

The Office of Early Childhood will continue to send regular communications and updates via the Weekly ECC and CCR&R newsletter and additional notices as needed. In addition, the QRIS team will be implementing regular check-in calls with councils. Please reach out to your QRIS Coordinator for more information.  

What should programs due to be rated in March and April do? Will they lose their rating? 

Due to the continued concerns around the COVID-19 virus, the Office of Early Childhood, in partnership with Clayton Early Learning, has made the decision to modify the Colorado Shines rating activities.

Program ratings that were set to expire in March through May will not be changed from the current level. Once rating observations resume, the completion of unfinished observations for March programs will be the priority followed by April then May scheduled programs. We ask that programs stay within their assigned rating month at this time. Once rating activity resumes, programs and ECCs will be contacted.

Can my Child Care Health Consultant visit my program remotely during the Safer at Home period? 

Yes, this is strongly recommended. Child Care Health Consultants are encouraged to visit programs remotely using TeleHealth or other video-based consulting services. 

What should child care providers do when a child ages out of a classroom since children are required to stay with a consistent group?

In an effort to support children, families and facilities, the Department is allowing a 6-month extension for children to remain in one classroom to ensure children are staying with a consistent group. A waiver is not needed, but please notify your Licensing Specialist.

For example, when a child in the infant room turns 18 months old, they can remain in the infant classroom until they are 24 months old, or when a child in the toddler classroom turns 36 months old, they can remain in the toddler classroom until they turn 3.5 years old. 

Family Child Care Home with an Infant/Toddler license may care for children until 3 years 6 months under this age extension.

Will changes be made to CCCAP reimbursements for providers to support providers if children aren’t attending?  

The decision to reimburse CCCAP child care providers for additional absences is determined by County Human Services Departments. The Colorado Department of Human Services and the Office of Early Childhood are encouraging counties to maintain expanded absence payments through the month of June for all licensed providers, this would include providers that are open to care for children or providers that have had to close temporarily.

We also want to encourage county offices to gather information from child care providers that have not yet reopened regarding if they intend to reopen in the coming weeks. The Department recommends that as of July 1, 2020, expanded absences only be paid to providers that have reopened to provide child care services to CCCAP families unless the county has identified that a child care provider has extenuating circumstances hindering their ability to reopen in July.