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COVID-19 News and Resources

California child care providers receive state flexibility to expand access for families of essential personnel; 
U.S. Department of Education authorizes new funding flexibilities to support distance learning

Healthcare professionals, emergency response personnel, grocery workers, firefighters and employees working other essential jobs will receive priority eligibility for child care and preschool under an executive order signed April 4 by Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

The order gives the California Department of Education and California Department of Social Services the flexibility to waive certain programmatic and administrative requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to allowing parents in essential jobs to bypass administrative and eligibility requirements in order to enroll their children in programs when they are working, the order also provides flexibility for after-school programs and temporarily suspends laws and regulations that restrict After School Education and Safety grantees from providing child care to school-age children of essential workers during school hours.

The order also allows California to take advantage of recently announced federal flexibility to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to reduce food insecurity and ensure children receive nutritious meals at low or no cost. The CDE and CDSS will share data and information to identify students who may be eligible for the expanded SNAP benefit. 

In signing the order, Gov. Newsom said the state agencies have until Tuesday, April 7, to jointly work out the details — such as how child care will be facilitated while maintaining required social distancing and taking into account considerations such as group size — and provide guidance to stakeholders.

Under shelter-in-place directives, child care providers must not host groups of more than 12 children and are required to adhere to other health and safety guidelines.

The executive order follows a federal injection of $3.5 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant program, which will allow programs to maintain critical operations and meet emergency staffing needs. The federal stimulus bill signed March 26 also provides $750 million to help Head Start meet staffing needs.

And under California’s Senate Bill 117, passed last month, $100 million in state funding will be distributed to local educational agencies to cover costs associated with maintaining nutrition services, as well as cleaning and disinfecting facilities and other education-related expenses.

As of March 25, more than 5,000 child care centers and family child care homes reported they had closed because of the coronavirus, according to the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, a network of agencies that support providers and help families find child care.
 

New funding flexibilities to support distance learning

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today a new streamlined process for providing states funding flexibilities to best meet the needs of students and educators during the COVID-19 national emergency. The new flexibilities, authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, allow schools to repurpose existing K-12 education funds for technology infrastructure and teacher training on distance learning, among other flexibilities to move resources to areas of highest need during the national emergency. The new process to obtain funding flexibilities will allow states to quickly make decisions to meet the needs of their students.

The streamlined template can be found at
oese.ed.gov, and submissions will receive an initial determination within one business day. Using the form, states can receive flexibility in the use of funds and other requirements covered under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, including:
  • Section 1127(b) of Title I, Part A of the ESEA to waive the 15% carryover limitation for Title I, Part A funds;
  • Section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act to extend the period of availability of prior fiscal year funds, for Title I, Parts A-D, Title II, Title III, Part A, Title IV, Parts A-B, and Title V, Part B programs, and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Children and Youth program;
  • Section 4106(d) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA to waive a needs assessment to justify the use of funds;
  • Section 4106(e)(2)(C), (D), and (E) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA to waive content-specific spending requirements;
  • Section 4109(b) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA to waive spending restrictions on technology infrastructure; and
  • Section 8101(42) of the ESEA to waive the definition of “professional development,” which might otherwise limit the ability to quickly train school leaders and teachers on topics like effective distance learning techniques.