Maryland expanding access to child care in latest recovery plan

Posted at 4:54 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 16:54:27-04

MARYLAND — Maryland education officials are expanding access to child care to include families returning to work under Gov. Hogan's latest executive order.

The Maryland State Department of Education announced on Wednesday the development of the Maryland Together: Maryland's Recovery Plan for Child Care, a plan to continue and expand child care during the coronavirus pandemic.

Parents newly returning to work as part of the state's Stage One opening of businesses can immediately access an open Essential Personnel Child Care or Essential Personnel School-Age program, recently expanded by 125 sites and ready to provide care for 21,500 more children than are being served presently.

In this transition stage, all new families not designated as essential persons under Gov. Larry Hogan's March 25 executive order who are accessing child care will pay tuition directly to providers.

The state will extend payment of child care tuition for all pre-recovery phase essential personnel through June 7. Beginning June 8, child care tuition will be paid by all parents directly to the provider.

"We extend our heartfelt thanks to Maryland's child care providers, teachers and staff who have agreed to deliver services for essential persons and first responders, as well as those child care providers who have remained closed for the health and safety of their staff and families," state schools Superintendent Karen Salmon said in a statement. "Maryland’s family and center-based child care providers are critical to our recovery efforts -- we will move forward together with safety as the priority."

MSDE said it will ensure that there are Essential Personnel School-Age Child Care facilities available to provide care for students through the end of the school year.

Additional child care providers (family and center-based) can apply to open as new Essential Personnel Child Care or Essential Personnel School-Age programs.

New child care sites must follow rigorous health and safety guidance set by MSDE and the Maryland Department of Health, and attend orientation webinar and regional conference calls. Each new site will receive a one-time grant in the amount of $800 (for family-based centers) and $1,600 (for child care centers) for cleaning, sanitization and supplies.

MSDE/MDH guidance for child care programs can be found here. Providers seeking to become an essential personnel child care program should contact their licensing specialists.

The first recovery stage continues to stress social distancing and reducing exposure to the virus as much as possible. If parents/guardians are able, they are strongly urged to keep children at home as the first and best option to protect them from the virus.

As the state slowly and safely reopens during Stages 1 and 2, eligible persons can find family and center-based child care programs here or by using LOCATE: Child Care, a free service available by phone weekdays at 877-261-0060 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Families who qualify can apply for the Child Care Scholarship Program, which subsidizes child care tuition for a child who is younger than 13 years old who does not have a disability, or an individual younger than 19 years old who does have a disability.