BOSTON – Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker today, March 18, announced a series of new measures to adapt childcare operations, enhance the Commonwealth’s healthcare system’s capacity, assist small businesses, and support unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Governor Baker issued an Executive Order requiring all early education centers and family childcare providers to close, starting Monday March 23 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) also issued emergency procedures to set forth a process for opening Exempt Emergency Child Care Programs during the COVID-19 outbreak to provide priority access for families of emergency personnel, medical staff, and others critical to confronting COVID-19.
Read the Executive Order here: Early Education and Care Order
Exempt Emergency Child Care Programs will be the only child care programs able to operate during the COVID-19 outbreak. Families who work to maintain the health, safety, and welfare of all Commonwealth citizens will receive priority access to emergency childcare programs and these centers should only be used by people who must go to work.
Vulnerable children will also receive priority access and space will be made for people who must go to work but aren’t necessarily emergency personnel.
The Department of Early Education and Care put procedures in place to quickly review applications for emergency child care programs, and to conduct expedited background record checks for childcare teachers and staff. The Department is working to ensure there is sufficient access to emergency child care programs in each region of the Commonwealth, so those workers who need childcare can still access it.
A proposed program can be either a currently-licensed child care program, or a new program such as a location within or near a medical facility. Providers impacted by these closures will continue to receive child care subsidy payments from the state. This ensures that programs will be able to re-open once the crisis is over.
Parents who receive subsidies will not lose their vouchers, and will be able to eventually resume care.
EEC will cover the cost of parent fees for subsidized families enrolled in care. All programs that would like to operate must complete the EEC’s Emergency Licensing and Background Record Check process. Programs that have a current license and educators with confirmed background checks will be expedited for approval. ·