Child Care During Coronavirus (COVID-19): The Definitive Guide

Evgeniya Usmanova

CareLuLu Mom-In-Chief
(Co-founder & COO)

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In today’s post, we’ll discuss child care during coronavirus (COVID-19).

Undoubtedly, many parents (and child care providers) are worried about the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak right now. At CareLuLu, we work with thousands of families to help them find great daycare and preschool programs, and we’re getting tons of questions.

So, we thought we’d prepare a guide to daycare during coronavirus.

This guide includes tips on how to find child care during closures (no, not all daycares are closed!) Also, we’ll provide answers to questions many parents are asking themselves.

This guide is mostly designed for parents, but if you’re a child care business owner, preschool director or teacher, we also wrote a guide for you. Read it here: Coronavirus In Daycare: What Should Child Care Providers Do?

Now:

As a parent of an infant, toddler or preschooler, there’s a lot on your mind right now. Maybe you’re struggling to find child care while many facilities are closed because of coronavirus. Or, maybe you’re wondering if it’s safe to send your baby to daycare during COVID-19.

Here are the questions we’ll answer in this post:

Let’s dive right in:

How can parents find daycare during coronavirus closures?

It may seem like all daycares and preschools and closed during the coronavirus crisis. There are more and more stories of parents struggling to find child care. Obviously, that’s an issue for all working parents, including those who are now working from home, but especially for healthcare professionals.

So, are all daycares shutting down during coronavirus?

No. It’s true that many child care facilities are closing for safety reasons. Nevertheless, many remain open. At least for now! Some States are requiring child care facilities to close (like public schools), but most States are not, for now.

So, how can parents find a daycare facility that’s open?

1. Consider a home daycare

Some child care centers and large preschools remain open, but most of the daycares that are open during coronavirus are home-based daycares (aka family child care programs).

Why?

Well, that’s because in-home daycares are licensed to care for fewer kids, so they meet the CDC recommendation for limiting group sizes. The initial CDC guidance was to cancel events for groups of 250 or more, but as of 3/16/20, the CDC recommends limiting groups to 10 people. Most family child care and preschool programs care for fewer than 10 children.

Click here to find a home daycare near you.

2. Consider part-time daycare

If you’re a parent struggling to find care, another option you can consider is part-time daycare. Maybe you’re working from home because of social distancing guidelines, so you don’t need full-time care.

If you only need child care for 2-3 days per week, or maybe you need care every day but only for a few hours each day, then part-time care is for you. Many child care and preschool programs, both homes and centers, will offer part-time care.

Click here to find a part-time daycare near you.

3. Look into drop-in daycare

If your long-term child care facility is closed due to coronavirus, or if you just had a baby and aren’t ready for full-time infant care, drop-in child care may be worth considering. Drop-in care comes in various shapes and sizes, from in-home daycares to large centers.

But remember:

Even if it’s “drop-in” care, licensed child care facilities always need to maintain teacher-to-child ratios, so make sure to contact child care providers to see if they have an opening when you need it. Note: parents typically need to fill out all the usual paperwork required by licensing (including up-to-date immunization records, etc.)

Click here to find a drop-in daycare near you.

Is it safe to take kids to daycare during coronavirus? Should I keep my baby home?

That’s a tough one. Ultimately, mom and dad, you’re the only ones who can make the decision. As a parent, the thing you care the most about is the safety and well-being of your little one. However, nobody can guarantee you that your child will not get sick at daycare.

Here’s the deal:

Even without the coronavirus outbreak, kids get sick at daycare all the time. They also get sick at home, or on the playground.

Children get exposed to germs everywhere and getting sick is just part of growing up! However, we also need to consider that now is not a normal time, and you need to do everything you can to make sure your baby doesn’t get sick now.

Here’s the truth:

In general, kids in their first year of daycare are more likely to catch colds than those who stay at home. But studies show that the risk of infection declines over time and after one year, a child enrolled in daycare is at no greater risk of illness than a child who stays at home.

Also, you can make sure your child care provider is doing what they need to in order to protect your baby. Here’s a post we wrote a while ago regarding germs in daycare, and the questions to ask your child care provider.

So, parents, the decision is yours.

Yes, your child is more likely to be exposed to germs in daycare. However, it doesn’t mean that a daycare isn’t safe for children right now. Child care providers can take a lot of measures to ensure that they offer a clean environment.

If you’d like to share tips with your daycare, send them this guide on what child care providers should do during coronavirus.

Also, there’s some good news (kinda):

Children seem to be at a much lower risk than older adults. This virus is still new and there isn’t enough research done to confirm this but so far, for the COVID-19 cases in China, there were no reported deaths in children under 10 years old.

Below is a chart of the death rate by age group.

Among children 10-19 years old, 0.2% of those diagnosed with COVID-19 died from it. In contrast, 14.8% of those 80 years and older who were infected by COVID-19 died as a result (based on information available to date from a recent study from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention).

However:

Even if young children are at a lower risk, it doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to worry about! Children can spread the virus to their parents (you!), their grandparents and other kids in daycare. If your child care provider is older or your kids are in close contact with their grandparents (or anyone else), you need to be extra cautious.

And in general, be kind and mindful. Your actions may impact other people, even if you and your close family are healthy. If you need to work and need to have your child in care, that’s completely fine! But social distancing is important right now, here are some pointers.

Should daycares and preschools close during coronavirus?

There’s no easy answer to this question either. Many child care businesses are trying to stay open to ensure that healthcare professionals can still go to work.

If all child care facilities shut down, how will doctors and nurses who have infants or toddlers go to work? And all the people who work to ensure that we still have food in the supermarkets? So there’s definitely a health and safety reason for daycares to remain open.

However, it’s impossible to deny that there’s a risk for both child care providers, as well as the children in care and their families. So, if they remain open, daycares and preschools should take additional safety precautions to ensure that everyone is safe during coronavirus.

You might be wondering:

Are daycares required to shut down during coronavirus?

Well in most cases, no, they’re not. Each state is taking action, and the recommendations vary.

In most cases, even if public schools are required to be closed, child care facilities can remain open. Since child care businesses are privately operated, most authorities aren’t requiring daycares to close. At least for now.

For instance, in Illinois, Gov. Pritzker announced that all public and private schools will be closed from March 17 to March 30 to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but child care centers will remain open. They will, however, have to follow strict health and safety requirements.

In California, similarly, schools are closed, but the California Child Care Licensing agency is letting daycares and preschools decide whether to remain open or to close.

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan went a step further and actually enacted an emergency order to expand child care access during the coronavirus. This is especially aimed at ensuring that critical personnel get child care during the crisis.

One big exception:

If you have any concern about your child, anyone in your family or anyone at your daycare being sick, then contact local health officials right away to figure out the best course of action. If there’s a suspicion of coronavirus in a daycare, then the facility would most likely need to close, at least temporarily.

Here are the coronavirus symptoms, as a reminder:

Also, the rules are changing daily, so tell your child care provider to check the updated guidance from their State child care licensing office on a daily basis, to know what they recommend or mandate.

One more thing: here’s an infographic with tips on how to prevent the coronavirus (COVID-19) from spreading.

Print it for your kiddos at home, and share it with your child care provider so they post it on the classroom walls.

In addition to these basic CDC recommendations, child care providers should implement “social distancing”, and teachers should keep children in small groups (no more than 10 people together in a classroom or activity, including teachers).

Child care providers should also keep children six feet apart as much as possible, and staff should monitor for symptoms (regularly check children and staff temperature, etc.)

Do I still need to pay tuition if my daycare is closed because of coronavirus? What if I decide to stop sending my baby, do I still have to pay for child care?

As a parent, you probably feel like you shouldn’t pay if your daycare closed because of coronavirus, or if you think it’s no longer safe to take your baby. And of course, it’s understandable to feel that way. Why pay for a service you’re not using?

Bur remember:

Your daycare is most likely a very small business who is struggling financially, just as much as you are (or more). Unless you’re enrolled with one of the large corporations like KinderCare, La Petite Academy or Bright Horizons, your child care center may very well shut down forever if you stop paying. It’s even more likely for small in-home daycares.

Many small businesses just don’t have any financial cushion to ride this wave. Some small businesses wouldn’t be able to survive a few weeks, without income, some not even a few days.

So even if you feel like you shouldn’t pay for child care during coronavirus, if you can, then consider supporting your daycare provider. After all, they’re your partner in helping you raise your child!

If you’re also struggling financially due to reduced work hours or no ability to work from home, can you pay a reduced amount (e.g. 25% to 50% of the regular child care tuition) to help keep your daycare afloat?

Oh, and don’t forget:

Check your child care enrollment agreement. Every child care contract is different, and there’s actually a chance that you’re legally required to continue paying tuition, even if your daycare shuts down due to coronavirus.

If you can’t make those required payments, talk to your center director or family child care provider, they may be able to postpone payments, or waive them entirely.

Now I’d love to hear from you:

If you’re a parent, are you still sending your baby to child care during coronavirus? Do you keep children home? Or, are you struggling to find a daycare?

Or if you’re a child care provider, are you thinking of shutting down? How long can you survive without pay? Or are you still open, and if so, what are you doing to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in your child care facility?

Let us know by leaving a comment right now. And please share this post on Facebook and Twitter so other parents and providers can share their advice too!

CareLuLu is the easiest way for parents to find great child care and preschool programs. On CareLuLu, parents can find detailed information on over 200,000 licensed daycares (hours, cost, photos, verified reviews) and contact providers instantly. Best of all, it’s free! Founded in 2013, CareLuLu’s mission is to improve access to safe, affordable, high-quality child care and early education.

Created by parents for parents. Find child care here: www.CareLuLu.com

Child care providers, list your program for free to get enrollments!

About the author

Evgeniya Usmanova

CareLuLu Mom-In-Chief
(Co-founder & COO)

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