In light of the spread of COVID-19, we want to ensure you and the families we serve are equipped with all the information you need related to COVID-19. We are working very closely with many community and state partners and receiving information from the Palm Beach County Department of Health (PBC-DOH) Local Licensing Child Care Enforcement, the Office of Early Learning (OEL), Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), School District of Palm Beach County (SDPBC), Centers for Disease and Prevention and the Department of Education. We will send you as much related information as possible.
Since there are many different entities involved in the early learning space, below we have outlined each organization's oversight as it pertains to COVID-19 so you can better navigate these systems should it be needed. This includes important guidance from OEL regarding program closures and child absences.
Local Licensing Child Care Enforcement Regulates the following (but not limited to):
- Emergency Preparedness Plans and Emergency Care Plans.
- Licenses and inspecting child care facilities in Palm Beach County.
- Ensures compliance with standards and establishes means of enforcing amended standards of Ordinances and Statutes, including emergency rules developed in response to a health crisis.
- Provides technical assistance to the local child care industry, including providing updated information to providers in order to remain compliant with general rules related to infection control and related amended rules.
- Investigates complaints related to the local child care industry, including allegations related to health care, infection control, expulsion and suspension of children in care, staff heath compliance, and any other indirect standard that might be impacted by the situation at hand.
- Health and Safety Guidelines (including communicable diseases and illness outbreaks).
- Reporting requirements related to outbreaks.
OEL Regulates/Oversees the following (but not limited to):
- Rules/Decision making regarding the reimbursement of providers for the children they serve.
- Reimbursement approval for specific days for program closures (by Executive Order/Federal Approval for SR children) including the following recent guidelines:
IMPORTANT GUIDANCE FROM OEL ON PROGRAM CLOSURES:
If a child care site has to close due to potential virus exposure, OEL has rule provisions that will allow the early learning coalitions to continue to reimburse the provider during the temporary closure.
- For school readiness (SR), Coalitions may continue to reimburse providers for child care services (given the children are not being served by another SR provider) for as long as the emergency dictates that the site be closed.
- For voluntary prekindergarten (VPK), Coalitions may continue to reimburse the providers for up to five (5) instructional days. Beyond this, VPK providers would have to make up those instructional days lost due to closure.
- There are currently no special provision regarding extended absences of SR of VPK children resulting from potential exposure to the virus. As a reminder, the SR rule allows a child to be absent for up to 10 days (3 unexcused absences and 7 excused absences) per calendar month. For VPK, a provider may be reimbursed for the full FTE if a child is absent no more than 20% of the instructional days of the month.
- Temporary closures and absence allowances beyond what is allowed in the SR and VPK rules will be addressed on a case by case basis (until OEL receives further instructions from DOE).
Early Learning Coalition oversees the following:
- Provides communication updates to providers and parents regarding the virus and where they can obtain additional information.
- Handles calls and inquiries related to the virus and provide resources and referrals as appropriate.
- Reimburse providers based on attendance (per OEL guidance and provider attendance).
- Provide information about available child care programs and facilitate provider transfers if/when child care programs must close.
If you do choose to close your program, please contact both the Coalition offices and the Department of Health, Division of Child Care Licensing at 561-837-5900 with updates.
While we understand that there are unknowns related to the impact of the virus on our community, we will continue to stay on top of things and as we have new information, we will share it with you.
ELC Palm Beach