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Gov. Whitmer signs executive order for disaster relief child care services

This order expands capacity for child care services for the essential workforce providing critical services during the COVID-19 crisis.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Tuesday, March 10, 2020, file photo, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces the state's first two cases of coronavirus, at the Michigan State Police headquarters in Windsor Township, Mich. Coronavirus cases in Michigan rose sharply late Thursday, March 12, 2020, as officials announced more cases, and as some K-12 schools began announcing closures while others began training staff to potentially move to online learning only. (AP Photo/David Eggert, File)

LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Wednesday to expand the capacity for child care services for health care workers, first responders, and other members of the essential workforce providing critical infrastructure to Michiganders during the coronavirus crisis.

The order went into effect immediately and authorizes the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to issue provisional licenses to expand capacity for child care services. 

It also allows employers, like hospitals, to operate a disaster relief child care center for their employees. Finally, it allows both public and nonpublic school facilities to be utilized for the purposes of maintaining a disaster relief child care center focused on providing services for members of the essential workforce. 

The Governor has asked all intermediate school districts to help mobilize and coordinate these efforts in partnership with local education agencies, employers and early child-care educators. She asks for all relevant state agencies to collaborate resources to support disaster relief child care centers, including financial, operational, and other technical assistance resources.  

To ensure essential child care services are safe, all disaster relief child care centers authorized under the order must perform a health evaluation of all individuals who enter the facility each time they enter, and they must deny entry to those individuals who do not meet the evaluation criteria. 

RELATED: Live updates: First death of a patient with COVID-19 reported in the state, state total reaches 110

All child care providers must continue following the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus. Disaster relief child care centers that begin to operate must comply with certain LARA-imposed requirements that insure the safety and well being of children. At a minimum the requirements must include:   

  • Follow the safe sleep guidelines, including appropriate sleeping equipment for children under 12 months of age; 
  • Follow LARA’s guidelines for diapering, hand washing, and sanitizing; 
  • Provide porta-cribs, cots, or mats for children older than twelve months to sleep or rest; and 
  • Have awareness of, and communicate with parents and guardians regarding, a child’s: medicine; allergies, including food allergies; and other special needs. 

Do you have more questions about COVID-19 in Michigan? Check out the state's website. 

Intermediate school districts, the Early Childhood Investment Corporation, and Michigan 2-1-1 are working together to mobilize and coordinate these efforts. If you are a member of the essential workforce, go to www.helpmegrow-mi.org/essential and your information will be routed to someone in your community who can help you find care. 

For licensed child care providers are who willing to remain open or re-open during this emergency, please complete a short survey to provide information about your program's ability to serve the children of the essential workforce: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/childcare-covid-response.

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