Attending Child Care during COVID-19
How can I help get my children ready for child care?
Starting a new child care program can be exciting and stressful for parents and children — and even more so during COVID-19. These resources will help.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has guidance for parents (and teachers) about how to help children transition back to school. Learn more from the CDC.
If my child’s program or classroom has to close for quarantine during COVID-19, will I still be charged tuition and/or fees?
Child care programs usually have a policy about what happens if they need to temporarily close the program or a classroom. You can check your records or get in touch with your program to find out their current policy.
The issues related to quarantines, closures, and family fess are currently a challenge for parents and programs throughout the state and country. We know that closures are difficult, and that paying fees during a closure further complicate things for families who are juggling their roles and responsibilities. We also know that providers have worked incredibly hard to keep their doors open during this crisis. They need income to ensure that they can continue to provide services. Without family fees, many providers would be unable to pay staff. And providers need staff in order to remain in business. Currently there is a severe worker shortage, so programs are doing everything possible to hold onto staff and remain open to provide care for you and your child.
If you have any questions, ask your child care provider about their approach. OEC is continuing to work with the providers and the Department of Public Health to find resolutions and policies that address the many needs facing both providers and families.
Keeping children healthy and safe
What health and safety requirements are currently in place in programs?
- Staff in child care and youth camps (vaccinated and unvaccinated) are required to wear masks indoors in child care and youth camps. Children age 3 and older in child care and youth camps must also continue to wear masks indoors, with a few exceptions. For more information, see the section on masks below. In conjunction with DPH and SDE, the Office of Early Childhood will no longer mandate mask wearing for children and staff effective February 28, 2022. Individual programs may have their own policies related to masks for children and staff.
- Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, OEC required child care and youth camps to meet certain licensing requirements, including regular cleaning and other health and safety procedures. We inspect programs regularly to make sure they’re meeting those requirements.
Is there other guidance that child care programs and youth camps should be following during COVID-19?
OEC encourages programs to follow guidance from OEC and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Keep in mind that other laws, rules, and regulations will affect the rules programs follow — and that programs can choose to set their own policies, too.
If you have questions about a program or camp’s policies, ask the staff.
If we travel, can I still send my child to child care or camp afterwards?
Child care programs and camps set their own rules about travel — so make sure to talk to them before you leave. Some may have limits on how soon your child can come back after traveling. Ask if they have a written policy.
Are teachers required to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
The requirement for COVID-19 vaccination by child care staff who work in Office of Early Childhood (OEC) licensed child care centers, group child care homes, family child care homes and licensed youth camps that operate during the school year is no longer in effect as of February 15, 2022.
Does my child need to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to attend child care or a camp?
Connecticut does not require the vaccine for children to attend a child care program or youth camp. Programs may set their own requirements for vaccines for those who are old enough to get a vaccine (currently 5 years and older).
Do my children have to wear masks during child care or camps?
Connecticut does currently require children age 3 and older to wear masks inside at child care programs and camps, but the statewide requirement will being ending soon. Starting on February 28, individual programs will be able to set their own policies about masks. OEC’s current guidance continues to recommend mask wearing, given the current levels of community infections and the data about cases of COVID-19 in child care settings.
Why is wearing a mask important?
Having your child wear a mask will help protect them from COVID-19. But that’s not all. It will also help protect other children, staff, and everyone they have contact with. This is especially important for young children because they cannot get the vaccine yet. Wearing masks is a way you and your child can help take care of your community. And it’s a way to help child care programs stay open — instead of having to close classrooms or programs because of new cases of COVID-19.
The CDC has provided this Science Brief on the Use of cloth Masks to control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). It includes information about the effectively of masks.
But I’ve heard that masks might not be good for young children.
There’s a lot of misinformation online right now, so it’s important to listen to the experts — people have dedicated their lives to studying diseases like COVID-19 and keeping children safe. Experts say that the risks you may read about on social media (for example, that masks cause low oxygen levels) are not true. To learn more, read the American Academy of Pediatrics Mask Mythbusters and share it with family and friends.
What kind of mask should my child wear?
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that cloth face coverings with more than one layer of washable, breathable fabric or disposable surgical-style masks are good choices. Pleated face coverings with elastic may work best for kids. Getting a snug fit and covering both the nose and mouth is important. Learn more from the AAP.
What if my child doesn’t like wearing a mask or keeps taking it off?
Some children may react that way, especially at first — it’s normal. But wearing a mask is a healthy habit you’re helping them learn, like washing their hands. Like other habits, mask wearing will take time to learn and requires practice. Talk about why it’s important and practice at home. Try to model a positive attitude about wearing a mask — without expressing negative feelings that children will hear or observe.
Work with your child’s program on teaching this skill if your child will continue to wear a mask. You may be surprised — your child may become used to it faster than you expect. This flyer has suggestions for how to encourage your child to wear a mask.
When your child is sick
What should I do if my child has COVID-19 — or has been around someone who has it?
If your child tests positive for COVID-19, keep them home and follow their doctor’s advice. You also need to call your child care program or camp, so staff can take steps to protect other children and staff.
Your child’s quarantine or isolation, and their return to child care, will vary depending upon several factors including:
- Your child’s age
- Whether your child can consistently and correctly wear a mask
- Vaccination status
- Whether your child has COVID-19 symptoms
Work with the child care to discuss their policies and the circumstances. For the full guidance provided to CT child care programs, you can refer to OEC Memo #37.
My child isn’t feeling well, but I don’t think it’s COVID-19. What should I do?
Right now, it’s important to be extra cautious. So if your child seems sick, you need to keep them home. It’s the best way for all of us to keep each other safe.
How will you know when it’s okay to bring your child back to child care or camp? Check with your doctor, talk with your child’s program about their policies, and keep an eye on your child’s symptoms.
My child has a health issue — is child care safe for them?
The best advice is to talk to your child’s doctor. Together, you can make a decision about whether child care is okay for your child. Then, you can talk to staff at your child’s child care program or camp and get their support.
Finding child care
How can I find child care during COVID-19?
2-1-1 Child Care makes it easy to find spots in child care programs in your area. Dial 2-1-1 or 800-505-1000. You can also use the Child Care Finder on their website
2-1-1 Child Care keeps track of programs in Connecticut, so they’ll know about any open spots.
Are you struggling to pay for food during the emergency? Need emotional support — or answers to questions about your child’s behavior? Check out supports for families during COVID-19.