New Guidance for Child Care Facilities Puts Limit on Child to Staff Ratio at 9:1

May 26, 2020, 3:20 PM HST · Updated May 26, 3:20 PM
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The Department of Human Services has released new guidelines for minimizing the risk of COVID-19 to children, staff and families when resuming or continuing child care operations. The guidelines are based on public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Hawai’i Department of Health.

The new guidance includes cleaning, sanitation and safety measures; child and parent expectations; employee support; physical distancing; limiting childcare groups to nine, plus one staff member; room dividers; staggered meal times; health and safety temperature checks; face masks; physical distancing to the extent possible; and facility safety (ventilation systems; trained backup staff; and protocols).

“I am confident with these guidelines, we can all feel confident in leaving our keiki with qualified childcare in the state of Hawaii,” said Alan Oshima, Economic Recovery and Resiliency Navigator for the state’s efforts to establish reopening guidelines.

Every child-care facility and home that continues to operate or reopens shall establish and follow written operational policies that address the guidelines consistent with Governor Ige’s Eighth Supplementary Emergency Proclamation.

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State officials say minimizing the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus to children in care depends on every facility and home consistently applying these public health practices.

The Guidelines for Child Care Facilities that cover public health measures include the following areas:

1. Cleaning and sanitizing
2. Physical distancing
3. Health and safety
4. Facility safety
5. Parent and child expectations
6. Employee support

“As the state continues to re-open, we know that childcare is essential. Without a safe place for their children, many people will have a hard time returning to their work,” said Gov. David Y. Ige.

DHS Launches Contract Opportunity for Child Care Providers

Eligible child care providers may now apply for $11.9 million of additional federal funds to increase the safety and protect the health of children in their care. Congress appropriated the Child Care and Development Fund block grant award as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act passed in March.

DHS has issued a Request for Proposals for Emergency Child Care Services and will award contracts to eligible providers to cover cleaning and sanitation of the child care facility or home or other activities necessary to maintain or resume the operation of the child care, including health and safety measures for the facility, health and safety measures for the child in care and for staff or caregivers.

All licensed and registered child care facilities and homes, as well as organizations contracted by the Department of Education to operate A+ sites at elementary school campuses, are eligible to apply. The deadline to apply is July 31, 2020.

This RFP will help the state meet the goal of having every child care facility and home meet the standards established in the guidelines.

Documents (including applications for service contracts, the agreement for services and frequently asked questions) can be found on the DHS GUIDANCE AND RESOURCES FOR CHILD CARE FACILITIES AND HOMES DURING COVID-19 page on the DHS website.

“DHS values all that child care providers do for our families and children, and we recognize the vital importance of child care for Hawaii’s economic recovery. We look forward to partnering with providers as they take the necessary public health measures to minimize the risk of exposure to children, staff, and families,” said Pankaj Bhanot, director, Department of Human Services.

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