- All schools, Pre-K Counts, and Head Starts will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
- The Pennsylvania Department of Education has announced the cancellation of all PSSA testing and Keystone exams for the 2019-20 school year as a result of COVID-19.
- In addition, schools will not be forced to meet the 180 days in session standard.
- As PA transitions into reopening, DHS has provided this FAQ for finding Childcare.
Child Care Centers
CARES Act Funding
There has been an initial distribution of $51 million of funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to support child care providers around Pennsylvania. Distributed in partnership with the General Assembly, this initial funding will reach nearly 7,000 child care centers.
To estimate Child Care Funding, use this calculation sheet.
Waivers for Child Care Centers Serving Essential Personnel
- There is a waiver process for facilities to serve the children of essential personnel such as health care workers, first responders, and direct care staff. If a provider submitted a waiver to OCDEL, the organization can operate under the assumption of approval.
- There is a database of open child care facilities.
- If you are required to obtain re-certification to work with children, adopt or foster, or under the public school system during the disaster emergency, you will have until 12/31/20 to obtain the re certification.
- If a person decides to delay, they will be required to obtain subsequent re-certifications within 60 months from the date of the most recent certification.
- If you are a new applicant for certification, you are able to begin your employment prior to obtaining the certification if:
- You have been a resident of the state during the entirety of the previous 10-year period or if they have not been a resident, they can submit an equivalent certification from the last state they were a resident
- You have submitted the necessary other certifications (ie: Child Abuse Clearances and PA State Police Background Checks) prior to the commencement of employment
- An employer must document the reason, relating to COVID-19 disaster emergency, why the individual is not able to obtain and submit certifications
- You affirm, in writing, that you are not disqualified from employment and have not been convicted of an offense similar in nature to the crimes listed in the law
- If you decide to pursue employment without certifications submitted, must submit the required documentation prior to 12/31/20 or 60 days after the expiration of the declaration of disaster emergency issued by Governor Wolf, whichever is sooner.
- If an employee is found to be disqualified, they must be immediately dismissed
- If you are an employee of child care center, group day-care home or family child care home you must comply by providing your employer proof you have completed request forms for the compliance and applied for the information required.
Please see here for a list of fingerprinting sites.
Child Care Subsidy Eligibility
In most cases the ELRC is not terminating CCW eligibility for families during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, there are some instances where eligibility must end. During the COVID-19 closures, adverse actions will continue to occur for the following circumstance:
- Over income
- Voluntary withdrawal
- Loss of appeal
- Child turns 13
- Family moves out of Pennsylvania
- Family assets over $1 million
- Intentional fraud
- TANF cases determined ineligible by the County Assistance Office
Providers will no longer be paid for children for whom an adverse action was issued.
This policy will be in effect through May 31, 2020.
Reporting Child Abuse/Neglect
- ChildLine is still taking reports of suspected child abuse and neglect. The toll-free hotline, 1-800-932-0313, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to receive reports of suspected child abuse. Mandated reporters can report electronically.
- Safe2Say is also a good tool for older children and teens to report abuse/neglect and violence. Children can report if they are experiencing abuse themselves or if they suspect a friend is being abused. Free Safe2Say resrouces are available at:
Summer Recreation Programs for Children
The Pennsylvania Department of Health is issuing these Frequently Asked Questions to provide guidance to summer camp operators, public bathing places, part-day school age programs, and other entities that provide necessary child care and enrichment and recreational activities for children and youth during the summer months.
This guidance does not apply to public school-operated summer programs or extended school year services. Guidance related to reopening public schools will be released by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Providing School Meals
Pandemic EBT Benefits for Students Enrolled in Free/Reduced Luch Programs
DHS will provide SNAP funds to households with children who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals through the National School Lunch Program due to pandemic-related school closures.
- P-EBT benefits will be issued through EBT cards issued to qualifying families. A family’s benefit will be determined based off the federal reimbursement rate for the daily rate of free school breakfasts and lunches, or approximately $5.70 per child.
- This benefit will be calculated for the remainder of the school year, leading to an approximate benefit of $370.50 per child if they were receiving free or reduced-price school meals when school closures began.
- Outstanding debt for school lunches will not impact ability to access this benefit.
- If a family’s economic situation has changed since school closures began, they can still apply for the National School Lunch Program and, if determined eligible, receive P-EBT benefits. Families can apply online at www.compass.state.pa.us.
PA Department of Education Waivers
- The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced that it received waiver approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allow schools to provide free meals to all children during statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
- Prior to receiving this waiver, schools that did not meet area-based free or reduced-price meal eligibility requirements were unable to offer free meals community-wide. This waiver eases those requirements and helps ensure all children have access to food. Schools still have a choice whether or not to provide this service.
- PEMA and PDE & DHS legal determined Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) workers (and others in the same category) would not need clearances to distribute meals to school children at temporary feeding sites. A person just providing food is likely not in charge of the child’s care, supervision, or control so they wouldn’t need a clearance. However, if that person is someone who is a regular part of a child’s school day, we would encourage them to obtain clearances.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a collaboration with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, PepsiCo, and others to deliver nearly 1,000,000 meals to students in a limited number of rural schools closed due to COVID-19. All contact is to go to: FeedingKids@usda.gov
First Book Credits & Resources
First Book has been actively reaching out to community of partners and donors seeking support to help us subsidize the cost of books and resources for children in low-income communities and make remote learning possible as we all navigate the impact of COVID-19.
If your agency is serving kids and families through a community program or emergency service program (such as a grab & go meal site, a food bank, or a faith-based organization), or if you want to send books home with students in advance of school closings please request funding support here.