DHS Resources and Guidance for Child Care Facilities and Homes during COVID-19

DHS Requirements for Regulated Child Care Facilities and Homes during COVID-19

In accordance with Governor Ige’s Supplementary Emergency Proclamations authorizing child care facilities to remain open or reopen and pursuant to Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR) §§17-891.1-6, 17-892.1-6, 17-895-6, and 17-896-6, DHS requires that all licensed and registered child care facilities and homes establish and follow written policies in line with the published Guidelines for Child Care Facilities to Reopen or Continue Care, updated October 25, 2021 (click here)” (hereinafter “Guidelines”) for reducing exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

The Guidelines were updated in accordance with the Department of Health (DOH) COVID-19 Guidance for Schools, which were last revised on July 31, 2021 and adapted from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools.

The key changes to the Guidelines as of October 8, 2021, are implementation of core strategies and mask wearing in child care facilities. The updated Guidelines are identified by DOH and CDC to be crucial in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in school and child care settings. The four areas included in the core strategies are:

  • Promoting vaccination for all eligible individuals who have frequent contact with children who are younger than 12 years old;
  • Staying home when sick or going home when sick;
  • Correct and consistent wearing of masks; and
  • Proper hand hygiene.

The Guidelines were created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in efforts to help minimize the risk of exposure and mitigate the spread of the virus in child care settings. DHS initially implemented the Guidelines on May 26, 2020, and provided an update on June 9, 2020, in order to allow the reinstatement of group sizes and staff-child ratios in accordance with the existing DHS administrative rules based on the ages, and the maximum capacity on the facility’s license for the maximum number of children and the corresponding number of staff needed to care for those children.

These Guidelines have the goal of keeping Hawaii healthy and not increasing Hawaii’s risk of additional cases of COVID-19 as Hawaii continues to reopen. Should the situation change regarding Hawaii’s overall community health, DHS may need to reinstate the previous measures originally released on May 26, 2020, with limits on group sizes.

The Guidelines were developed based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Hawaii Department of Health. These Guidelines are public health measures to minimize risk to children, staff, and families when resuming or continuing child care operations. COVID-19 pandemic is a global public health threat. Therefore, every child care facility and home that continues to operate or reopens shall establish and follow written operational policies that address the Guidelines consistent with the Governor’s Supplemental Emergency Proclamation. Minimizing the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus to children in care is dependent on every facility and home consistently applying these public health practices. The Guidelines as updated on October 8, 2021, will be in place for a period of time as determined by the State as we continue to make progress in minimizing the spread of COVID-19 in Hawaii. DHS will advise child care facilities and homes when any measures in the Guidelines are modified.

If your child care facility or home has not reopened yet, please contact your child care licensing office to ensure you are meeting the requirements for reopening and receive guidance if needed.

List of Licensed and Registered Child Care Statewide
Statewide Child Care Providers – PATCH Directory – click here

Additional Resources for Child Care Providers
CDC Foundation’s webinar “Adapting, Evolving, and Thriving: Tools to Evolve Your COVID-19 Child Care Strategy” – note: the information starts 2:00 minutes into the posted video 

Frequently Asked Questions about Child Care FAQs_COVID-19 (rev 5-1-2020)

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/child-care-guidance.html

The CDC has posted information regarding cleaning and disinfection and checklists for schools and childcare programs at the following websites:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/colleges-universities.html

For families with young kids or providers caring for or educating young kids:
Updates and resources from the Executive Office on Early Learning Amid COVID-19.

Helpful resources from the Executive Office on Early Learning.

DOH Guidance for schools:
https://health.hawaii.gov/coronavirusdisease2019/files/2021/08/COVID-19-Guidance-for-Schools.pdf

DOH Guidance and Printable Resources