COVID-19 Licensed Child Care Facilities and Providers (FAQs)

Center Closures & Re-opening Questions

Any decision about re-opening a child care facility that was closed due to COVID-19 should be made in coordination with your local health department.

Contact your Local Regional Office to inform them of your re-opening date. Make sure you have enough staffing to adhere to ratios and group sizes. Also ensure you have a plan in place to screen staff and children upon arrival, develop and train staff on COVID-19 prevention policies and protocols for families, and have adequate disinfectant and cleaning supplies.

CDSS does not advise facilities on how they should collect, receive, or refund payments for child care. Each provider may set up their own business practices regarding payments.

If you contract with a state-subsidized early care and education program, we recommend that you contact the program directly to obtain their guidance for payment during closure.

Whether your facility must close will depend upon guidance provided by your local health department and your ability to provide child care services during the outbreak.

Close contacts will need to be identified. A contact is defined as a person who is less than six (6) feet from a case for more than 15 cumulative minutes in a 24-hour period. In some school situations, it may be difficult to determine whether individuals have met this criterion and an entire cohort, classroom, or other group may need to be considered exposed, particularly if people have spent time together indoors.

Work with local health officials to determine appropriate next steps, including whether a temporary closure, or exclusion of a cohort, classroom or other group, is needed to stop or slow further spread of COVID-19.

  • If cases have been identified in more than one cohort, a decision about whether the facility should close should be made in consultation with your local health department.
  • Notify your regional licensing office and all parents.
  • In family child care homes, the child care should be closed when an infected individual must continue to live in the home.
  • If facility is closed, please consult with your local health department about the length of closure; length of closure is typically 14 days.

Face Coverings

Yes, staff in all child care facilities must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth indoors, unless they have an exemption as outlined in CDPH guidance, in which case they must still use an acceptable alternative.

Note that local guidance may apply. Please follow recommendations from the local health department when they are more restrictive than state guidance.

Cloth face coverings are required to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by both the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), better known as Cal/OSHA. CDC recognizes there are specific instances when wearing a cloth face covering may not be feasible.
In these instances, staff should consider adaptations and alternatives whenever possible. They may need to consult with healthcare providers for advice about wearing cloth face coverings.

Facial coverings, gloves, hand sanitizer, thermometers, and additional supplies have been provided by the State. Child care programs can contact their local Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies for more information about obtaining supplies.

Child care providers should follow the guidance issued by CDPH that requires all individuals in child care settings to wear face coverings while indoors.

The CDPH also released updated statewide COVID-19 guidance for child care providers to maintain a safe and low-risk environment. The Guidance for Child Care Providers and Programs informs child care providers and the families they serve about infection control practices that prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 infection in facilities and contains additional information about face covering:

  • Child care providers must ensure compliance with the current CDPH Guidance for the Use of Masks. As of June 15, 2021, the use of face coverings is required by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) in child care indoor settings regardless of vaccination status.
  • Never place face coverings on babies or children under 2 years of age because it poses a danger and risk for suffocation.
  • Children should not wear face coverings while sleeping.
  • Child care providers and licensees must ensure the use of face coverings does not cause children to overheat in hot weather.

Note that local guidance may apply. Please follow guidance from the local health department, if it is more restrictive than state guidance.

Modifications to Operations and Licensing Regulations

Parents are required to sign children in and out of the facility each day. Ask parents/caregivers to bring their own pens when signing children in and out.

Yes. The CDSS Child Care Licensing Program is still inspecting child care facilities. In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, a Licensing Program Analyst may contact licensees to pre-screen the facility before making an in-person visit. You can read more about this process by reviewing Provider Information Notice (PIN) 21-08-CCLD.

During this pandemic, CDSS has taken steps to ensure that providers have the flexibility they need to meet the needs of children in care.

Pursuant to its authority provided by the Governor’s March 4, 2020 Proclamation of a State of Emergency, CDSS has issued both statewide waivers and individual waivers to assist providers.

Some examples of waivers include, but are not limited to, waivers of annual fees, building and grounds requirements, and personnel requirements; and approval of alternate programs, services, procedures, equipment or space, and provisions necessary to ensure the ability to continue providing services with a conditional or provisional license.

Unless there is a local health department order stating otherwise, child care programs on closed school campuses can remain open or re-open. Please contact your local health department to ensure there is no closure order.

For preschool programs that are based on a school campus, if the school campus is closed, then the local school district will decide if the childcare or preschool program can open. Please contact your local school district to receive permission to operate the preschool program.

Refer to the CDPH Guidance on small group cohorts that provides more detail on cohort size limitations, mixing, etc.

CDSS offers licensure for the following child care facilities as defined in Title 22, Sections 101152 and 102352.

  1. Child Care Center" or "Day Care Center" (or "center") means any child care facility of any capacity, other than a family child care home as defined in Section 102352(f)(1), in which less than 24-hour per day nonmedical care and supervision are provided to children in a group setting.
  2. “School-Age Child Care Center” means any child care center or part of a child care center of any capacity where less than 24-hour per day nonmedical care and supervision are provided to school-age children in a group setting.
  3. “Infant Care Center” means any child care center or part of a child care center of any capacity where less than 24-hour per day nonmedical care and supervision are provided to infants in a group setting.
  4. “Combination Center” means any combination of child care center, infant center, school-age child care center, and child care center for mildly ill children that is owned and operated by one licensee at a common address. “Preschool-age child” means a child as defined in Health and Safety Code Section 1597.059.
  5. "Family Day Care" or "Family Child Care" means regularly provided care, protection and supervision of children, in the caregiver's own home, for periods of less than 24 hours per day, while the parents or authorized representatives are away. The term "Family Child Care" supersedes the term "Family Day Care" as used in previous regulations.
    • "Small Family Child Care Home" means a home that provides family child care for up to six children, or for up to eight children if the criteria in Section 102416.5(b) are met. These capacities include children under age 10 who reside at the licensee's home.
    • "Large Family Child Care Home" means a home that provides family child care for up to 12 children, or for up to 14 children if the criteria in Section 102416.5(c) and (d) are met. These capacities include children under age 10 who reside at the licensee's home and the assistant provider's children under age 10.
  • Title 22, California Code of Regulations, sections101152 and 102352
  • Health and Safety Code sections 1596.750, 1596.76, 1596.78, 1596.7915, 1597.059

Notification of Positive Exposures

Reporting is key to protecting the health or safety of individuals in the childcare facility and community. The totality of the impact and devastation that has occurred in California as a result of COVID-19 and the resulting state of emergency, taken together, provide compelling reasons for childcare facilities to exercise this ability for reporting

The facility director should contact the local health department to determine whether the local health department is requesting all reports of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 infections. COVID-19 is a public health emergency, and the local health department tracks the spread and exposure of COVID-19.
When three cases of COVID-19 are identified among children or staff within a 14-day period, the facility director must report a suspect outbreak to the local health department.

Each county and community may have different levels of transmission, and the local health department will help you determine the course of action to follow for your child care facility. The local health department will also inform you of its isolation and quarantine guidelines for cases and exposed individuals.

Local health departments will work with employers to determine which employees in the workplace may be at risk of COVID-19 infection and may reach out to employees who are considered close contacts of a person infected with COVID-19.

Note: CDPH and Cal/OSHA require all California employers to notify local health departments when they meet the reporting threshold of three or more cases of COVID-19 in their workplace within a two-week period. There is additional information that is required to be reported.

You must immediately notify your local CDSS Child Care Licensing Regional Office by email or phone during normal business hours.

You must also complete the Unusual Incident Report (UIR) LIC 624 for centers or LIC 624b for family child care homes within one business day. The report should include the following:

  • Name of the individual involved, if provided
  • Date the individual was exposed to COVID-19 or confirmed positive
  • Child’s age, sex, and date of admission
  • Whether the individual was exposed to COVID-19 or has a confirmed positive test
  • Number of positive cases
  • Description of the guidance given from the local health department (i.e., quarantine, closure of facility, notification to families and staff, cleaning and disinfection) and provider’s plan of action.

The regional office will maintain communication with you to provide support and technical assistance (TA) as needed until the situation is resolved.

Post the parental notification in a visible place for parents and guardians, along with written correspondence via handouts or email distribution.

Send an email, developed in collaboration with the local health department, to parents and staff to inform them that a case of COVID-19 in a child or staff member has been reported and that the facility will work with the local health department to notify exposed people about quarantine and testing

Maintain ongoing communication with families via e-blasts, phone calls, communication boards, or other methods.

It is critical to always maintain confidentiality of any child or staff member who has been exposed to, or confirmed positive for, COVID-19.

Messages to parents and families should inform them about the importance of not participating in potential stigma and discrimination against any person believed to have been exposed to COVID-19.

A child care facility licensee must notify all employees who were potentially exposed to the individual with COVID-19 within one business day. Written notification must be provided to staff, and it can be done through an email, text, or a memo.

Protect the confidentiality of health information by not identifying the employee to anyone other than the Regional Office, the local health department, and other governmental agencies as required.

Testing and Limiting Exposure

The facility should not allow any individual who has a COVID-19 positive test result or COVID-19 symptoms to enter the facility until they have completed their isolation period.

If a child develops symptoms while in the facility, the facility must separate the child from others in an isolation room or area (such as a cot in a corner of the room) that can be used to isolate a sick child. Notify the family to pick up the child right away. Always supervise ill children, and make sure all staff wear face coverings. A plan for isolation procedures is essential.

If staff develop COVID-19 symptoms while present in the facility, they should be sent home and instructed to follow up with their health care provider. Staff may return to the facility when:

  • It has been 10 days since their symptoms first appeared; AND
  • It has been 24 hours without a fever and without the use of fever reducing medications; AND
  • Other COVID-19 symptoms are improving.*

*Loss of taste and small may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation.

Follow Cal/OSHA requirements for investigation, notification, and testing of exposed employees, as outlined in the new Cal/OSHA standards and explained in the FAQs.

The facility director should contact the local health department to determine whether the local health department is requesting all reports of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 infections. COVID-19 is a public health emergency, and the local health department tracks the spread and exposure of COVID-19. When three cases of COVID-19 are identified among children or staff within a 14-day period, the facility director must report a suspect outbreak to the local health department immediately but no later than 48 hours.

Immediately report a positive test result to your local CDSS Child Care Licensing Regional Office and notify parents and staff of any positive test results in compliance with the most current Public Health guidance and instructions.

Protect the confidentiality of health information by not identifying the individual to anyone other than the Regional Office, the local health department, and other governmental agencies as required.

When a COVID-19 confirmed case is reported, the child care facility must:

  • Identify and contact all individuals who were exposed, meaning those who were within 6 feet of the infected person for 15 cumulative minutes or more in a 24-hour period.
  • All staff who have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive person (close contact) must be: (1) offered testing at no cost during working hours; (2) excluded from the facility for the CDPH/local health department recommended quarantine period; and (3) provided information on benefits employees may be eligible for while off work.
  • Treat the entire cohort, classroom, or other group as exposed—particularly if they have spent time together indoors. This is a best practice for all child care settings operating with a license or waiver.
  • Not allow anyone into the child care program who has been identified as a COVID-19 case who is still isolated or anyone who was exposed to COVID-19 who is still in their quarantine period.
  • Inform exposed individuals to quarantine at home per local health department recommendations.
  • Consult the local public health department for their advice on taking any public health actions beyond removing sick or exposed children or adults from the child care program.
  • Review COVID-19 current mitigation strategies to prevent exposure and determine gaps and implement necessary improvements to prevent future exposures.

Additionally child care facilities should:

  • Close off areas used by the person confirmed to have COVID-19 until the area has been cleaned and disinfected.
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the areas.
  • Wait as long as possible before you clean or disinfect to allow respiratory droplets to settle before cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person confirmed to have COVID-19, such as offices, bathrooms, and common areas.

Child care providers or staff responsible for cleaning should clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, classrooms, spaces, bathrooms, common areas, including kitchens, hallways, and high traffic areas, and shared manipulatives, toys, electronic equipment (like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, and remote controls) used by the ill individuals, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces. Ensure the facility and/or classroom is aired out following cleaning with a disinfectant.

  • Identify and contact all individuals who were exposed, meaning those who were within 6 feet of the infected person for 15 minutes or more.
  • Treat the entire cohort, classroom, or other group as exposed—particularly if they have spent time together indoors. This is a best practice for all child care settings operating with a license or waiver.
  • Not allow anyone who has been identified as exposed to COVID-19 into the child care program.
  • Inform exposed individuals to quarantine at home for 14 days beginning on the day after their last exposure to the infectious case.
  • Consult the local public health department for their advice on taking any public health actions beyond removing the sick child or adult from the child care program.

Additionally child care facilities should:

  • Close off areas used by the person confirmed to have COVID-19
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the areas.
  • Wait up to 24 hours or as long as possible before you clean or disinfect to allow respiratory droplets to settle before cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person confirmed to have COVID-19, such as offices, bathrooms, and common areas.
  • If more than seven days have passed since the person who is confirmed to have COVID-19 visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary.

Child care providers or staff responsible for cleaning should clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, classrooms, spaces, bathrooms, common areas, including kitchens, hallways, and high traffic areas, and shared manipulatives, toys, electronic equipment (like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, and remote controls) used by the ill individuals, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces.

Inform parents and families that it takes effort by the entire community to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Advise parents of the potential health consequences of knowingly bringing a child to a facility when they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or may have been exposed to COVID-19: It puts other children, families, and staff at risk for infection, and it may ultimately result in the facility having to close.

Implementing daily screenings and physical distancing guidance is key for modeling to parents and families that you are taking this public health crisis seriously.

It is also important to remind parents that a child can develop symptoms during the course of the day, even if they did not have symptoms when the parent dropped them off.

Talk to parents and families about having a backup plan for child care. A good time to do this is when you update the emergency cards. If you have not done this since the COVID-19 public health emergency, please do it now.

It is important to maintain frequent communication with parents because of the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in public health guidance.

Ensure you have posted COVID-19 resources in multiple languages.

If your child care center’s admission policies have changed, provide notice of the update to the policies by posting them in a public location in the facility.

Currently, COVID-19 testing is not required in order to return to a child care facility at the completion of the isolation period.

CDPH recommends that all individuals with COVID-19 symptoms be tested; however, staff who have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive person (close contact) in the facility must be offered testing at no cost during working hours.

Testing of exposed individuals without symptoms can be considered if local lab capacity permits (check with local health department about their recommendations). Individuals with symptoms who have a negative COVID-19 test result may return to the child care program 24 hours after symptoms completely clear up; however, all individuals exposed to a positive COVID-19 case must quarantine and not return to the child care program for the quarantine period recommended by the local health department even if they are tested and are negative during the quarantine period.

In compliance with CDPH guidance, individuals should isolate at home when symptoms first appear, or when a positive test result is returned even if no symptoms are present. Individuals may return to the facility when:

  • It has been 10 days since their symptoms first appeared; AND
  • It has been 24 hours without a fever and without the use of fever reducing medications; AND
  • Other COVID-19 symptoms are improving.*

*Loss of taste and small may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation.

Contact Us

Community Care Licensing Division
744 P Street, MS 8-17-17
Sacramento, CA 95814
Email: cclwebmaster@dss.ca.gov

CCLD Complaint Hotline

If you see something, let us know!

To file a complaint regarding a state licensed community care facility or child care facility visit our Complaint Hotline Page for contact information and more.

 

CCLD Services and Notifications