When and How to Reopen Child Care Programs

July 27, 2020

a director of a family child care reviews a checklist

Like no other time in the history of child care, coronavirus (COVID-19) is challenging child care professionals to make difficult decisions about closing their programs temporarily and then determining when and how to reopen. These decisions are critical to protecting the health and safety of all enrolled children and their families as well as program staff and their household members.

Aside from state/local mandates for child care programs, reopening decisions are complicated by numerous factors: Will children be enrolled who have easily compromised immune system health or who have conditions, like asthma, that put them at enhanced risk for poor COVID-19 outcomes if exposed to the virus? Are child care program staff comfortable with potentially being on the front lines of coronavirus as they are in close quarters with children when providing care? Can cleaning, sanitizing and personal protective equipment be sourced and will it be affordable for child care programs for as long as it is needed? How do continuously shifting community transmission rates and many other COVID-19 unknowns factor in to decision making to re-open doors to children and their families?  

With so much information swirling around about COVID-19, it’s easy to be unaware, or lose sight of tools and resources that can help child care program owners and operators make re-opening decisions that are best for families, staff and the community. Listed below are some of Child Care Aware® of America’s (CCAoA) go-to resources related to re-opening child care programs after being closed due to COVID-19. 


Information on whether child care programs are open or closed 

  • CCAoA offers a state-by-state map that depicts statewide statuses of child care closures. Simply click your state for the latest information about child care closures. This information is updated frequently. 
  • Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies situated in nearly every state provide community-level information on guidance to follow when re-opening child care centers or family child care homes. CCAoA provides an online database of CCR&Rs that is searchable by location. 


Resources to inform reopening plans 

  • CCAoA has hosted number of COVID-19 webinars that are relevant to both system and program level child care professionals.  
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a COVID-19 decision tool to help school and child care program leaders decide how to re-open during the COVID-19 crisis. 
  • CCAoA has a COVID-19 Resource Hub which provides links to resources on business supports that are available for child care professionals. Business support topics include the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), cash help for providers, resources for purchasing personal protective equipment and sanitation supplies, an action plan that child care professionals can use as a checklist as they begin to re-open their business and more. 
  • State and local health departments are excellent sources of state and county-specific guidelines for child care programs. You may find links to state health department websites and/or telephone numbers by clicking on CCAoA’s state-by-state map, selecting your state of interest and then browsing the ‘Health and Social Services’ tab.  
  • Many state child care licensing agencies also offer COVID-19 information that is relevant to re-opening child care programs. You may find links to state child care licensing websites and/or telephone numbers by clicking on CCAoA’s state-by-state map, selecting your state of interest and then browsing the ‘Child Care’ tab. 
  • CCR&Rs are another resource for child care programs that are considering re-opening. Many CCR&Rs are administering child care financial relief programs. Search and connect with the CCR&R in your community to see what they have to offer. 


Stay tuned

In addition to all the resources noted above, we have additional resources on the horizon for you. Coming soon to CCAoA’s website:  

  • Our new Help Center (self-serve technical assistance portal) that will be updated regularly with information and resources related to the questions most frequently asked by CCR&Rs, providers and families.  
  • A series of webinars and briefs on business automation and ways to improve efficiencies and sharpen financial management strategies. Watch the first one here.
  • Resources and tools to support social-emotional health and trauma informed care.
  • New decision-making tools for child care providers and families.   
  • And more! 


Connect with our team

CCAoA’s Emergency Child Care and Technical Assistance Center team is ready to engage with you. This new Center serves CCR&Rs and other system-level leaders, providers and families. You may submit a technical assistance request online anytime and a team member will connect with you.  

Families seeking information about safe and healthy child care options during COVID-19 and other family resources can find trusted information on our Coronavirus News & Resources for Families page. Families also may connect with us directly by calling our hotline at (800) 424-2246 or by chatting with us online using any ‘Live Chat’ link located on the lower right corner of CCAoA’s website.   

We’re in this together, so reach out today.



This post is brought to you by CCAoA's Emergency Child Care & Technical Assistance Center™.  Learn more and request technical assistance.

Topics: Health & Safety, Coronavirus

Kim Engelman

Written by Kim Engelman

In 2015, Dr. Engelman joined Child Care Aware® of America’s staff team where she uses her expertise and knowledge from preventive medicine and public health, health and human service systems, child development, research and data, clinical psychology and early childhood care and education to advance Child Care Aware® of America’s mission.