The Department of Early Education and Care has announced guidelines and a list of locations concerning the Exempt Emergency Child Care Program instituted by Governor Baker during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To slow the spread of coronavirus, Governor Baker has issued an emergency order temporarily closing all early childhood education programs across the State of Massachusetts to suspend providing childcare by 11:59 P.M. on Sunday, March 22, 2020. This will remain in effect until April 6, 2020 and may be extended as needed.
This closure applies to all center-based child care and family child care programs. It does not apply to residential schools, community group homes, temporary shelters, transition-to-independent living facilities, teen parent programs, and DYS secure facilities.
Exempt Emergency Child Care Programs will be the only child care programs that are allowed to operate during this time. This prioritizes public health and safety while maintaining critical service.emergency child care list
Do not contact an emergency child care program unless you require emergency, back-up, drop-in care. According to the EEC, priority must be given to people including but are not limited to health care workers, essential state and human service workers, COVID-19 health workers, grocery store employees, emergency response personnel, law enforcement, transportation and infrastructure workers, sanitation workers, DCF-involved families, and families living in shelters. To slow the spread of the coronavirus, all families should keep children out of group care settings to the greatest extent possible. Emergency Child Care Programs are for when all other non-group-care settings have been exhausted and families have no other options.
The EEC has issued a list of frequently asked questions.
Will there be transportation provided to the Exempt Emergency Child Care Programs?
No. At this time we are putting all of EEC’s resources toward launching emergency care to support vulnerable children and the children of families who are required to work to maintain the health, safety, and welfare of all Commonwealth citizens as well as maintaining our system of providers for vulnerable families once the crisis is over.
Will I be required to pay to enroll my child at an Exempt Emergency Program?
No. The Commonwealth will fund the operation of these programs.
Will emergency child care workers get priority testing for COVID-19?
Yes. Department of Public Health Staff will prioritize emergency childcare workers that are exposed or symptomatic for testing of COVID-19.
For people who have to work but aren’t first responders or medical staff, how will they know if their child can attend one of these daycares?
This is not intended to be a replacement for traditional childcare. It is an emergency program. Families will check in with approved programs in their region to see if there is a slot available they could fill. The program will make decisions, in consultation with the EEC regional office, about who qualifies for care.
Who decides who receives the emergency care, is it the site? How do they determine if they qualify, and how quickly?
Parents will contact approved programs directly, using a public list EEC will share. The emergency childcare providers, with guidance from the EEC regional office, will make decisions about care based on the needs of the families that apply.
How quickly will families know if they are confirmed for care?
Parents will get quick answers directly from the approved emergency child care programs after reviewing their particular circumstances with the childcare provider.
Are child care programs that close due to COVID-19 allowed to still be collecting tuition and not crediting families for the missed days?
Childcare providers are independent businesses and the Department cannot comment on an individual provider’s payment policies. EEC has encouraged all programs to be flexible with parents during this time. The state is providing financial assistance programs for small businesses, including childcare providers, that may help programs offer that flexibility. Programs that provide subsidized care are continuing to receive full payment from EEC during this time.