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Reopening for Direct Contract Programs

Email Guidance Regarding the Reopening of Direct Contract Programs from July 2020.

Attention: Executive Directors and Program Directors of All Subsidized Early Learning and Care Programs

The California Department of Education (CDE), Early Learning and Care Division (ELCD) understands that the rapidly changing context around the novel coronavirus pandemic poses considerable challenges to early learning and care providers. The CDE, ELCD is working on developing guidance that implements the 2020–21 Budget Act and related legislation. This notice provides information regarding the implementation of the requirement for programs to reopen.

Direct Contract Program Reopening

The 2020–21 Education Omnibus Budget Trailer Bill (Senate Bill [SB] 98) requires programs operated by the contracting agency to open by September 8, 2020, or within 21 calendar days from the start date of the contracting agency’s 2020–21 program calendar approved by the department, whichever is sooner. Per SB 98, programs can only be funded to be physically closed if they are closed due to a state or local public health order. The CDE, ELCD recognizes that many direct contract programs will not be able to open for in-person early learning and care before this deadline for reasons such as site closures.

The CDE, ELCD is working on a Management Bulletin (MB) that will define what it means to be closed by a local or state public health order due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as provided by SB 98. The MB will seek to address various situations that arise locally, including:

  1. orders that broadly close childcare and/or preschool programs;
  2. orders that specifically close an agency’s childcare and/or preschool program; and
  3. situations where a direct contract program is operated by or on the campus of a local educational agency (LEA).

The CDE, ELCD will also be issuing additional guidance addressing what distance learning means and what must be addressed in the distance learning plan required by SB 98.

Until the CDE, ELCD has released this MB, direct contract programs, including the California State Preschool Program, General Child Care, and California Migrant Child Care, that are operated by a LEA or operate on a LEA campus, including community-based organizations that operate on a LEA campus, may physically close and continue to be funded when the LEA site has determined it may not open. This guidance includes only programs operating on a LEA campus. Other program models not on a LEA campus must remain open unless these programs have been directed to close by a state or local public health department per situations numbers 1 and 2 above. Any early learning and care program or program component that closes as a result of these conditions must provide distance learning for enrolled children and families.

Once the LEA or the state or local public health agency decides its campus(es) are safe to reopen, the programs on the respective LEA campus(es) must physically reopen as well.

In addition, both LEA and non-LEA direct contract programs have the ability to revise their program calendars due to situations where they are unable to open within 21 calendar days of their operating calendar, and where the closure is not due to a state or local public health order. If a direct contract program is closed for a reason other than a state or local public health order, the program must reopen by September 8, pursuant to SB 98. Revised program calendars do not need to be submitted at this time; the forthcoming MB will include detailed guidance on calendar revisions as applicable.

If you have questions regarding the information in this email, please contact your assigned Program Quality Implementation Regional Consultant on the ELCD Consultants Regional Assignments web page.

Questions:   Early Learning & Care Division |
Last Reviewed: Friday, February 17, 2023
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