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Updated Child Care Provider Guidance from OSSE - March 27th, 2020

To read OSSE's guidance message from March 22nd, 2020, please click here.

March 27th, 2020

Dear Early Childhood Education Community:

First of all, a deep thank you as we continue working together to address the impacts of the current public health emergency. We realize that this is an extremely difficult time for child care providers – you are facing decisions as business owners, caretakers of young children and their families, as well as taking care of your own health and safety. We appreciate your partnership as OSSE works to support our community and protect the health and safety of young children and families.

This message includes:

  • Information around Mayor Bowser’s order designating child care providers “essential businesses”

  • Information about a new weekly call for providers and members of the early childhood education community

  • Interest form for providers who want to learn more about supporting emergency child care for health care professionals · Reminders about health and safety measures and payment during this time

Child Care Providers as Essential Businesses

On March 24, 2020, Mayor Bowser included child care providers as “essential businesses” in her Mayor's Order closing non-essential businesses, which is in effect through April 24. Child care providers may choose to remain open during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic but are not required to do so. 

OSSE has received questions about whether this decision changes the initial recommendation that child care providers follow the DC Public Schools opening status, and therefore remain closed. Due to the health and safety dangers of in-person contact and gathering in groups during the unprecedented coronavirus crisis, we continue to recommend that child care providers follow the DCPS opening status. DCPS is currently conducting distance learning through April 27.

At the same time, many essential workers helping to keep us safe need child care, including health care professionals, critical government workers, and first responders, but also staff from other businesses that keep our community moving, such as grocery stores and banks. Generally, child care providers who remain open are strongly encouraged to serve the children of critical health care workers and first-line responders.

OSSE and several child care provider partners have worked to stand up six emergency child care sites for essential health care professionals, with more capacity to follow in the next few weeks as we confirm the scale of need. If you’re interested in learning more about the emergency health care effort, please click here.

Child Care Providers Eligible for Mircogrants, Applications Due March 31

OSSE recognizes that this is an incredibly difficult time for providers, and our priority is to protect the health and safety of children and families, as well as doing everything feasible to support child care providers.

There are resources available for providers who need extra financial support as we move into April. Child care providers needing urgent assistance should explore the opportunity for microgrants from the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED). Eligible businesses and nonprofits can apply for up to $25,000 in financial support. Applications are due March 31. Read more on Mayor Bowser’s microgrant program.

Weekly Call for Early Childhood Community Begins March 30

The coronavirus crisis is rapidly changing, and OSSE is committed to providing up-to-date and responsive information as possible during this time. To that effect, OSSE will begin hosting a weekly call for child care providers and members of the early childhood education community in DC. The first call will be held on Monday, March 30 from 10-11 a.m. Please RSVP to join the Go to Webinar.

Reminder: Guidance for Providers Remaining Open During Coronavirus Pandemic: All providers remaining open should also follow OSSE’s guidance on social distancing and other safety measures for child care facilities, including:

  • Limiting groups of children and staff to no more than 10 individuals and ceasing large group activities, field trips, and outside visitors who are not family members

  • Staggering drop off and pick-up times

  • Minimizing as much as possible mixing on the playground, cafeteria and other shared spaces

  • Directing children and staff to stay home if they exhibit a fever (100.4 degrees or higher), runny nose, coughing or other flu-like symptoms Providers should also continue to follow cleaning and sanitary procedures from the Deputy Mayor for Education.

Reminder: Payment for Subsidy Providers: Whether or not they choose to close, providers who accept subsidy will continue to receive payment from OSSE as outlined in this March 20 guidance. Facilities who choose to close will receive payment as long as they follow the procedure outlined in the guidance for notifying OSSE of the closure, including submitting an Unusual Incident Report (UIR) to

All parents receiving child care assistance will have their copays waived during the public health emergency. Level I facilities will receive the full reimbursement rate while co-payments are waived, and Level II facilities who choose to stay open will receive the full reimbursement rate plus the co-pay amount from OSSE.

For additional questions, please reach out to Thank you once again for your partnership, and your dedication. Please stay well during this difficult time.

For resources and information about the District of Columbia Government’s response to coronavirus (COVID-19), please visit


Eva Laguerre and Margareth Legaspi

Interim Assistant Superintendents

Division of Early Learning

Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)

Government of the District of Columbia

1050 First St. NE

Washington, DC 20002

Twitter: @OSSEDC

For the latest information on the District Government’s response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), please visit

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