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  • Writer's pictureInstitute Staff

Guidelines for Emergency Child Care and After-School Services

Updated: May 29, 2020

We recognize that these are unprecedented times. As the United States responds to the coronavirus pandemic, we recognize the unique role and contributions that child care providers and after-school programs play throughout the United States. Ensuring that children are cared for so that front-line medical providers can get to work is essential as we continue our efforts to combat this deadly virus. Childhood experts are rising to the challenge and serving their country as asked. In return, we must ensure that these extraordinary workers are protected, compensated, and provided with the tools and guidance needed to safely perform their duties.

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Numerous studies have proven the effectiveness and impact of high-quality child care. While this pandemic has certainly impacted our daily lives, we cannot simply toss aside years of research, evidence, and efforts. We know that this crisis will have substantial impacts on the mental health of many, including that of children. Therefore, it is now more important than ever that we provide our children with services that excel in health, safety, and quality.

We also recognize that this battle does not end at 5:00 p.m., therefore, child care programs must be adaptive and offer extended hours, including 24-hour operations. In order to do so effectively and safely, early childhood professionals will require training, resources, supplies, and equipment. This includes access to cleaning supplies as well as personal protective equipment.

We understand that formal guidance has been lacking - and that states have adopted a piecemeal approach to addressing the needs of those caring for children. Seeking to address this gap, leadership from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and the Institute for Childhood Preparedness began developing guidance that could be used for those programs operating to provide child care for essential workers.

This 28-page guidance document was drafted using the most up to date information available. The guidance was then shared and crowd-sourced to numerous early childhood and after school professionals across the United States. This week-long process provided valuable feedback and allowed the guidance to become more operational, addressing the specific needs of those caring for children.

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The document is ever-evolving, as new information becomes available. As many jurisdictions seek to implement emergency or essential child care operations - this document can be used as a starting point. Jurisdictions should feel free to modify the contents of the document to meet their specific needs and regulations.

This effort is a result of long-hours of a great many individuals, all working to prepare resources for child care providers during a time of great uncertainty and shifting advice. We hope that you find it useful. If you find additional issues or areas that need to be addressed please let us know by emailing us at

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