In anticipation of summer, and our goal to support child care providers in meeting the evolving needs of families safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are excited to announce new flexibilities in the COVID-19 Child Care Regulations & Guidance Documents (both are attached). A summary of these two changes, and next steps for you to adopt those changes, are listed below.
- Group Size Modification for School-Age Classrooms: Beginning April 26th, center-based child care providers can resume pre-COVID capacity for school-age classrooms. Providers are still required to maintain stable pods within these school-age classrooms; however, group sizes can resume pre-COVID capacity as outlined on your DHS Child Care License (maximum group size of 26 children while still adhering to staff: child ratios.) Important to note: If you intend to expand group sizes in your school-age classrooms, you do not need to submit a revised COVID-19 Control Plan. You are required to still adhere to the group size/child: staff ratios outlined in the DHS Child Care Regulations and your DHS Child Care License. As a reminder, all school-age children, as well as staff, should be masked while present in DHS-licensed child care centers.
- Early AM/Late PM operations: Beginning April 26th, center-based child care providers who serve children between the hours of 7-9AM and 4-6PM can create unique stable groups to serve those early arrivals/late departures in one classroom. All classrooms in a licensed-center during the traditional school/work day should still adhere to the stable pod regulation with a stable staffing pattern; however, given the operational challenges in serving children during the early/late hours of the work day, DHS is offering flexibility to allow for combining stable groups during those hours to reduce personal costs for programs. If you are a licensed center who would like to combine stable groups during the hours listed above, you can submit a revised COVID-19 Control Plan to the Office of Child Care requesting permission from the Licensing Team to do so.
Please allow at least 5 business days for the Office of Child Care to review your revised COVID-19 Control Plan in advance of implementing the adjustment in your programmatic operations. Providers should submit their revised COVID-19 Control Plan online using the Child Care Consumer Portal https://earlylearningprograms.dhs.ri.gov/providerlogin. Once providers log-in to the portal, clicking on “Forms” on the left side of the page will bring you to a COVID-19 form option. From there, you can add a new form and provide the licensing team with your updated COVID-19 control plans.
Please note: The Office of Child Care holds the discretion to not approve COVID-19 Control Plans based on findings from either COVID-19 Case Investigations or findings from Unannounced Monitoring Visits conducted in the past nine months. You should not adjust operations until you have received individual approval from the Licensing Team to do so.
Thank you in advance for your partnership in serving children and families safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are so grateful for your leadership during this challenging time.
The Office of Child Care
RI Department of Human Services
Download the new DHS Guidelines for Child Care in English (PDF) (Updated 4/1/2021)
Descargue las Nuevas Pautas para el Cuidado Infantil de DHS (PDF) (Actualizado 4/1/2021)