On June 29, 2020 family child care providers across the state of Massachusetts will start to reopen. In anticipation of the return to care, Acre Family held two ‘town hall’ meetings with parents to discuss reopening guidelines and strategies, one on Monday, June 22nd and the second on Wednesday, June 24th. The following represents the frequently asked questions:
Please be aware that the Department of Early Education and Care is doing an ongoing review of all guidelines and regulations. Any answer below is subject to change.
Can I visit the Acre office?
At this time the Acre office is closed to families, please call if you have any questions you need addressed. Any authorizations that expired between March 16 and July 31, 2020 have been automatically extended.
What if I’m not comfortable sending my child back to care right away? Will I lose my subsidy, will I lose my spot with my current Provider?
During the month of July families must respond to the “Intent to Return to Care” form that was mailed in late June; one form must be completed for each child in care. If a family is uncomfortable resuming care immediately, but would like to return later in the summer, they will not lose their subsidy or their spot. However, if we do not hear from families and children simply do not return to care and we are unable to confirm they are returning, the contract may end and spot forfeited.
If I have lost my job over the last few months or working fewer hours, will I lose my subsidy?
No. EEC will release new policies to ensure that families are given options to maintain their subsidy even with uncertain employment or service need, including an extension to the amount of time allowed under provisional authorizations for job search to 26 weeks, including reauthorizations.
Are parents allowed to enter Providers’ homes?
For the safety of the Provider and all children in their program, Providers are being asked to restrict the number of individuals that enter their program, this includes parents. However, parents should still feel connected to the Provider and the program. During this time that parents are discouraged from entering the program, we encourage every program to think of ways to increase communication whether through phone calls, virtual meetings, newsletters, emails, or other.
Why are different Providers opening on different days?
Each Provider receives their license to provide care from the Department of Early Elementary and Care (EEC). Each Provider must complete their own unique reopening plan and receive individual approval from EEC to reopen. Additionally, some Providers are choosing to take additional time to make changes to their space, secure specific materials, take time off during the summer, or do not otherwise feel prepared to open immediately.
What is the process of dropping off and picking up?
Drop off and pick up will look a little different at each program and you should speak directly to your Provider to understand how it will work. Each program will stagger this schedule so multiple families are not congregating around the program at the same time. Additionally, every morning families must complete a daily wellness screening which will review a variety of symptoms. If a child or any member of the household is experiencing any of the symptoms on the list, the child will not be allowed to enter the program.
Are children required to wear masks in care?
Children 2 and older are encouraged but not required to wear masks. We recognize that many children will have a difficult time with this expectation. The educator will work to support and promote this new expectation and skill.
How will Providers promote social distancing in their programs?
Providers have taken the last few weeks to reimagine their spaces and their daily activities to promote physical distancing of children throughout the day. This includes during mealtimes, hand washing, transitioning between activities, and more. We know that it is an unrealistic expectation to assume all children will comply with this distancing all the time. Children are social and want to see their friends, want to share toys and experiences, and need a hug of compassion or encouragement at times. Providers will work to balance encouraging social distancing and the abilities and developmental needs of children.
Do siblings need to social distance?
No. Children that live in the same home do not need to meet the same guidelines for social distancing and sharing of materials.
Will backup care be available if my Provider is closed?
The availability of backup care will be significantly limited until all Programs reopen and with their full capacity. We will do our best to Provide care when possible but cannot guarantee availability. If a Provider is closed due to potential exposure to COVID-19, it is likely that backup care will not be offered to any of the children in the program.
Will I have transportation for care?
Same as the Providers, our transportation program has additional guidelines to comply with to promote the health and safety of our staff and children and families. In meeting these guidelines fewer children will be allowed on the vehicle at any one time, pickup will take longer in order to complete the daily wellness screening, and additional cleaning will need to happen throughout the route. This means we will be able to transport fewer children and that more time will be needed for each pickup. We are asking for every family that owns their own vehicle or have regular access to a vehicle to do their own transportation. For families without a vehicle or will not be able to provide transportation, please call our Transportation Manager, Sheila, directly: 978-937-5363.