DHS makes Childcare policies flexible during COVID-19

HARRISBURG – The Department of Human Services has announced the temporary suspension of some regulatory policies on school-aged childcare, with the goal of providing flexibilities for families who need safe child care options during traditional school hours for children who are distance learning.

“We want children to be in situations where they are safe and supervised by trusted adults; where they are able to focus on their education; and where their interactions with other people are limited so as to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller said. “What we don’t want are parents quitting their jobs to stay home with their school-age children.”

Families may create collectives – or learning pods – of other trusted families in their community who can depend on each other for supervised childcare during school hours without needing a licensed child care certification.

DHS is also collaborating with organizations across Pennsylvania, including the United Way and YMCA, to establish part-day childcare programs for school-age children. These programs are required to develop Health and Safety plans for COVID-19 mitigation and to comply with requirements under Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law for all adults working with children to have background clearance checks. Soon, DHS will launch a tool on its website where families can go for information about these programs.

When possible, DHS recommends that families choose licensed childcare providers, which have routine oversight and must comply with statewide childcare regulations. Accommodations for school-aged children engaged in distance learning will depend on the individual provider, so families should have that discussion with the provider before enrolling their school-age child. To find licensed providers in your community, visit www.findchildcare.pa.gov or contact your Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC). Find your ELRC at www.raiseyourstar.org.