In efforts to provide up-to-date information during COVID-19, the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) has the following updates for the early learning community.
Operations for OCDEL and Partners
During the COVID-19 closure mandate, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) and its business partners Early Intervention Technical Assistance (EITA), all 19 Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRC), and the Pennsylvania Key continue to be available to support early learning providers and families. While in-person services have been paused, telephone and virtual connections continue to occur.
ELRCs continue to process Child Care Works applications and conduct annual redeterminations for families. They are also assisting parents who are part of the life sustaining workforce to make connections to operating child care programs and providing information on services in their region, such as food pantries.
Clarification of Closure Notices and Child Care-Updated April 6, 2020
Until such time as Governor Wolf lifts the order, child care programs in Pennsylvania must remain closed unless they meet one of the following criteria:
- A Family Child Care Home;
- A Group Child Care Home operating in a residence;
- A Child Care Center or Group Child Care Home operating outside a residence that has received a waiver to provide care for children of employees who work for life-sustaining businesses or businesses operating under a DCED issued waiver; or,
- A part-day school age program that has received a waiver to remain open from OCDEL. Please note this is a change from the previous process. OCDEL is now reviewing all child care and part day school age program waiver requests utilizing the same form and submission process.
Upon notice that the Governor’s March 19, 2020, order is to be lifted, all child care programs who closed during COVID-19 may be able to resume operations depending on the circumstances and whether any additional orders are issued or in place at that time.
Child care programs will otherwise return to operations at their discretion based on the program’s ability to ensure regulatory compliance on criteria that includes but is not limited to the availability of space, staff, and the needs of families enrolled at the time of the program’s closure.
List of Facilities Operating with a Waiver - Updated
OCDEL has posted and will continue to update the list of providers operating with an Exemption to Operate During Temporary Closure (waiver) on the DHS COVID-19 Resources section. As of April 6, 2020, this list also includes all Family Child Care Homes and Group Child Care providers who continue to operate.
Providers who have received a waiver may be contacted by the ELRC or families seeking to find short-term placements during the emergency declaration period.
Providers who have received a waiver, Child Care Home or Group Child Care providers who make the decision to close, must report their closure to
. If providers report a closure and then decide to re-open, a new waiver must be submitted to justify re-opening.
Early Intervention Update
With the stay at home order and the
announcement on April 9, 2020
, regarding the closure of schools through the end of the academic year, many people are asking for updates regarding Birth to Three Early Intervention or Preschool Early Intervention. Early Intervention programs across the state have contacted families with children that have a developmental disability to discuss options available for services and, where appropriate, have begun to provide teleintervention. Early Intervention programs continue to process referrals during this time.
Early Intervention programs across the state have contacted families with children that have a developmental disability to discuss options available for services and, where appropriate, have begun to provide teleintervention. Early Intervention programs continue to process referrals during this time.
Parents who have a concern about their child’s development may contact their local Early Intervention program or call Pennsylvania’s Early Intervention CONNECT number at 800-692-7288. The CONNECT Helpline assists families in locating resources and providing information regarding child development for children ages birth to age five. In addition, CONNECT can assist parents by making a direct link to their Infant Toddler Early Intervention program or local Preschool Early Intervention program.
CARES Act and Child Care
There has been a lot of publicity around the passage of the federal CARES Act and the stimulus funding authorized in the Child Care Development Fund for states to support child care and ensure they can weather this crisis. Pennsylvania has not yet received funding or written guidance from the federal Office of Child Care. While OCDEL is waiting for the funding and the guidance, OCDEL is working to assess the effect of COVID-19 on child care in Pennsylvania to help determine the best use of these federal stimulus funds.
OCDEL has received questions on the impact of the CARES Act on self-employed family child care and group child care operators. Currently self-employed business operators are ineligible for unemployment compensation (UC). Under the CARES Act, self-employed business operators may be eligible for UC.