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Update on the Spread of COVID-19, the Novel Coronavirus

March 20, 2020
The NC Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Child Development and Early Education and Division of Public Health released the following today, March 20th:

Yesterday, North Carolina announced its first documented case of community spread, meaning the person infected did not have contact with someone who had tested positive or traveled to a highly impacted area.  Confirmed community spread signals a need to further accelerate the next phase of the work.

North Carolina has already been taking actions as if community spread had occurred to get ahead of the virus.  With the goal of flattening the curve, Governor Roy Cooper has taken aggressive actions by limiting large gatherings and closing restaurants and bars.  The idea is to lessen the number of people who get sick at the same time and avoid overwhelming the state’s hospitals and health care system.  As this next phase begins, North Carolina needs to continue to reduce the chances for further spread and exposure and protect our healthcare system, so it is there when needed.

North Carolina wants to reduce the chances that people will be exposed to the virus or expose others so other surveillance methods will begin to be deployed to understand the spread of the virus and drive the decision-making.

Protecting the state’s health care workforce and making sure they have the protective equipment they need is paramount.  As licensed child care providers, the state needs you to be there for the children of the health care workforce, emergency responders, and others who are on the front line of this crisis.

The Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) knows this a challenging time and wants to be supportive by providing the most current and up-to-date guidance.  NC DHHS recommends that child care facilities:

  • Cancel or reduce large events and gatherings, such as assemblies and field trips.
  • Limit inter-school interactions.
  • Consider dismissals if staff or absenteeism impacts the ability to remain open. Short-term closures may also be necessary to facilitate public health investigation and/or cleaning if a case is diagnosed in a child or staff member.
  • Follow the guidance for child care settings.

Child care settings should also:

  • Take precautions to protect children and staff from the spread of respiratory illnesses.
  • Review absenteeism policies and procedures to make sure children and staff are not being encouraged to attend or work if they are sick.
  • Establish a relationship with the local health department and communicate with them if there are any questions or concerns about COVID-19.
  • Remind staff and the children’s guardians that an annual flu shot is an important way to support overall health. While the flu shot does not protect against COVID-19, it is the best defense against the flu, which is a common respiratory illness.
  • Make sure to get reliable information. Be thoughtful about any information received on the virus and take steps to separate rumor from fact before forwarding information on to staff and children. All North Carolinians can better prepare for COVID-19 by getting up-to-date information directly from reliable sources like NC DHHS and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Finally, here are several resources to assist in the navigation of these challenging times.

  • NC 2-1-1 by United Way of North Carolina is now available for people to call for assistance related to the COVID-19 coronavirus
  • COVID-19 text information and updates are available. To sign up, text COVIDNC to 898211.
  • The NC DHHS website publishes regular updates, including new guidance that is developed, information about Executive Orders, and other important information.
  • The DCDEE website publishes regular updates, including new guidance specific to child care facilities, as well as provide parents and educators with COVID-19 virus guidance and home learning resources.

Thank you again for supporting North Carolina and its families by providing vital care and services.  

Child care for essential workers hotline in North Carolina

March 20, 2020
Released today by NC Department of Health and Human Services:

We know many of our state’s first responders and essential workers are worried about ensuring their children have safe care while they bravely support our community, providing critical services during this unprecedented crisis.

Under the direction of Gov. Roy Cooper, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the NC Department of Public Instruction are working with our network of partners across the state to provide child care options to children of essential workers, which includes first responders, hospital staff, front-line healthcare providers, nursing and adult group home staff, child care program staff, food service staff and others working to keep our communities safe and healthy as we respond to COVID-19— as well as care for children who are homeless or in unstable or unsafe living arrangements—who do not have access to other care arrangements at this time.

We encourage families who have flexible working arrangements to use that flexibility to stay at home with their children. Parents and families with urgent child care needs may call 1-888-600-1685 to find high-quality, safe child care for infants through children age 12.

We encourage you to share the hotline number and the English or Spanish handout with workers who may need care.

 

DCDEE Announces Flexibility in Policy and Regulatory Requirements

March 18, 2020
DCDEE Announces Flexibility in Policy and Regulatory Requirements

The Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) appreciates all the hard work and continued sacrifices that NC’s child care facilities have made during the COVID-19 outbreak to serve families, fuel the state’s economy, and protect the state and nation’s security.

With the closure of North Carolina’s public schools, DCDEE knows the demand on the state’s licensed child care facilities is elevated. In order to provide relief and flexibility to child care facilities serving families, DCDEE has been actively working to identify policy and regulatory requirements that can be temporarily waived, while still ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of children.

While DCDEE asks that facilities attempt to continue to maintain compliance with all child care rules to the extent possible, the ones included in the enclosed chart have been identified to provide flexibility to centers during this time of crisis. DCDEE will continue to evaluate and determine if there is a need to include additional regulatory flexibility as the situation progresses.

Additionally, during this time, all monitoring visits and environment rating scale assessments will not take place. This temporary change does not include investigations of complaints and investigations of child maltreatment. Other flexibilities include areas such as Staff/Child Ratios and Group Size, Training Requirements, Record Retention, Activity Areas, and Nutritional Standards. Be assured that a child care facility’s star rating will not be impacted if a facility temporarily utilizes these flexibilities. A NC Pre-K classroom that discontinues operation as an NC Pre-K classroom will need to operate according to the regular child care licensing standards identified in the attached chart.

Thank you for supporting North Carolina and its families by providing vital care and services.

RULE TOPIC  EMERGENCY DESCRIPTION  REGULATION
Inspections of Child Care Facilities The Division will not be conducting visits and inspections other than in response to a complaint or investigation of child maltreatment. 10A NCAC 09 .0201
On-Going Requirements for a License The Division will not enforce required inspections under (a) and (b) to the extent such inspections cannot take place due to COVID-19. 10A NCAC 09 .0304(a) and (b)
Activity Schedules and Plans Temporarily allow flexibility to child care facilities for the completion and posting of activity schedules and plans. 10A NCAC 09 .0508
Activity Areas Allow flexibility in the requirements for activity areas and focus on providing age appropriate activities for children in care. Temporarily may allow up to 2 hours of screen time per day for children three years old and older. 10A NCAC 09 .0510
Staff Qualifications If child care facilities are required to add new staff, the Medical Report and Tuberculin (TB) Test Requirements may be temporarily waived to allow staff to begin work, provided they are not symptomatic and all requirements can be completed within 60 days. 10A NCAC 09 .0701(a)
Staff Qualifications Temporarily waiving the requirements to maintain certain information in an individual’s staff record. 10A NCAC 09 .0703(c), (d)
Staff/Child Ratio and Group Size Temporary allowance for all child care facility programs, regardless of star-rating, to operate using the minimum allowable staff/child ratios and group sizes.

Temporarily allow increasing the maximum group size provided the staff/child ratios are maintained for the youngest child in the group, not to exceed two groupings of children. Must adhere to the CDC Guidance of not gathering more than 50 people in a single space.

10A NCAC 09 .0713(a).
Nutritional Requirements Temporarily waive the requirements to provide additional food to meet the USDA Meal Patterns for Child Care requirements when meals/snacks are brought from home. 10A NCAC 09 .0901
Staff Orientation Temporarily waive/suspend the time frame for staff to complete orientation.  Some staff may have just been hired and it may be a hardship for programs to get these orientation hours completed within the required time frames. 10A NCAC 09 1101(a)
Training Requirements Provide an additional six months for administrators and any child care provider to complete CPR, FA and ITS-SIDS training.  This change is allowed as long as one child care provider who has completed the CPR, FA training is present while children are in care, and as long as one child care provider in the infant room who has completed the ITS-SIDS training is present while infants are in care. 10A NCAC 09 .1102
Indoor/Outdoor Space Temporary allowance for child care facilities to exceed current indoor and outdoor space capacity requirements. 10A NCAC 09 1401(a), (f)

10A NCAC 1402(b)

10A NCAC 09 .2504

Family Child Care Home – Nutrition Standards Temporarily waive compliance with Meal Pattern requirements if availability and access to food components is impacted due to COVID-19, including if a parent brings in their own food for meals and snacks. 10A NCAC 09 .1706
Family Child Care Home – Inspections Temporarily waive requirement for announced or unannounced visits other than in response to a complaint or investigation of child maltreatment. 10A NCAC 09 .1709
Family Child Care Home – Daily Operations Temporarily allow flexibly to child care facilities for the completion and posting of activity schedules and plans. Temporarily allow up to 2 hours of screen time per day, and unlimited usage time periods when working on school assignments. 10A NCAC 09 .1718(a)(6), (b)
Family Child Care Home – Records Temporarily waive the requirement that the Child’s Health Assessment and Child Immunization Record be included in the Child’s Record within the first 30 days of enrollment. These records should be provided within 60 days. 10A NCAC 09 .1721(a)(1),(2)
Record Retention Temporarily waive the requirement that the Child Medical Report and Child Immunization Record be included in the Child’s Record within the first 30 days of enrollment. These records should be provided within 60 days. 10A NCAC 09 .2318(6)
School-Age Children – Age Appropriate Activities Continue focusing on providing age appropriate activities daily. Temporarily may allow up to 2 hours of screen time per day, and unlimited usage time periods when working on school assignments. Make rest areas available if a child wants to rest, but not required due to space and number of cots/mats available. 10A NCAC 09 .2508
Star Rating The Division will not be conducting announced or unannounced visits to assess compliance for star-rating. 10A NCAC 09 .2830
NC Pre-K Attendance Temporarily waive the requirement to contact parents for more than three consecutive absences when such absences are related to COVID-19. 10A NCAC 09 .3003
NC Pre-K Child Health Assessment Temporarily extend the 30-day requirement for completion of the health assessment to 60 days. 10A NCAC 09 .3005

 

Subsidy and NC Pre-K payment during COVID-19

March 18, 2020
The following information was released by the Division of Child Development and Early Education on March 17th:

Thank you for supporting our state and our families by providing vital care and services. DHHS and DCDEE understand that you are worried about the financial impact this event may have on your programs.

To address your concerns, we are making the following policy changes:

  1. Child Care Subsidy: For the month of March, all licensed child carecenters and family child care homeswill receive full subsidy payment for each child enrolled in their facility according to each child’s plan of care.
  2. NC Pre-K: Pre-K programs will be paid in full for the entire month of March, regardless of child attendance or closure.

We will assess payment policy options for future months as the need develops.  We encourage you to check your email daily and read everything we send so you have the most up-to-date information and so we have the most accurate sense of child care availability across the state.

Please let DCDEE know if you have any questions. 

COVID-19 guidance for child care settings in North Carolina

March 17, 2020
The NC Department of Health and Human Services has released Interim Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Guidance for Child Care Settings in North Carolina on March 16, 2019. Please read this guidance carefully. More information will be released as it becomes available. To receive the latest information in a timely manner, please check this website, and:

Child Care Health Consultants are available to answer questions – find the consultant for your county here. 

Coronavirus or COVID-19

March 10, 2020
The NC Child Care Health and Safety Resource Center encourages using reputable sources for information about the coronavirus including the:

As always, the most important method of preventing the spread of infectious diseases, including the coronavirus, is handwashing. Download posters from our website or from the Department of Public Health’s resource list.

 

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