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Management Bulletin 20-11


Early Learning and Care Division

Subject: COVID-19 Guidance: Emergency Closures

Number: 20-11

Date: April 2020

Expires: June 30, 2020, or until rescinded

Authority: Senate Bill 117 (Chapter 3, Statutes of 2020); California Education Code Section 8271, California Code of Regulations, Title 5 Section 18070; California Code of Regulations, Title 22, Section 101212(e)(4)

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


Purpose

This Management Bulletin (MB) is to notify and provide guidance to state-subsidized early learning and care programs about emergency closure requests, including providing on-going information on program closures and reopenings, after the enactment of Senate Bill 117.

This MB supersedes guidance outlined in MB 10-09 and provides specific guidance related to the state-declared State of Emergency related to the coronavirus (COVID-19). It is important to note that this is not a permanent change to statute or regulations.

These requirements will apply until June 30, 2020, unless nullified or changed by the Legislature. If necessary, the California Department of Education (CDE) will issue additional guidance related to emergency closures that exceed this time period.

Background

The CDE contracts with local educational agencies and community-based organizations throughout the state to provide early learning and care services to subsidized families. Reimbursement for these contracts is determined differently based on the specific contract type, as defined in the California Code of Regulations, Title 5 (5 CCR) and the annual Funding Terms and Conditions (FT&Cs). Specifically, 5 CCR Section 18054(a) requires that center-based contractors are reimbursed the lesser of:

  1. The contract’s Maximum Reimbursable Amount (MRA)
  2. Net reimbursable program costs, or
  3. The product of the adjusted child days of enrollment for certified children, times the contract rate per child day of enrollment, times the actual percentage of attendance plus five percent (5%), but in no case to exceed one hundred percent (100%) of enrollment.

Annual FT&Cs Section V.(L) requires that family child care home education network (CFCC) contractors are reimbursed based on the lesser of:

  1. The contract’s MRA, or
  2. The amount earned, which is defined as net reimbursable program costs, of which at least seventy percent (70%) must be payments for direct services, not more than thirty percent (30%) may be for support services and administrative costs together, and no more than fifteen percent (15%) may be for administrative costs alone.

Additionally, 5 CCR Section 18055 states that if the contractor fails to operate at least ninety eight percent (98%) of the minimum days of operation required in its contract, ceases operation, or the contract is terminated prior to the end of the contract period, the MRA shall be reduced in proportion to the percentage of the contract minimum days of operation that the contractor did not operate.

The California Education Code (EC), Section 8271 provides early learning and care contractors “shall not be penalized for incurred program expenses nor in subsequent annual budget allocations because they are unable to operate due to circumstances beyond their control.” Circumstances beyond the control of operating contractors include epidemics and the imminence of a major health or safety hazard, as determined by the local health department or law enforcement agency.

On March 17, 2020, the Governor signed SB 117 (Chapter 3, Statutes of 2020) which includes provisions to ensure continuity of payments to state-subsidized early learning and care programs, subject to guidance from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI). This new law allows the SSPI to develop directives to address, as necessary, contractual reporting requirements applicable for FY 2019-20 state-subsidized early learning and care programs impacted by COVID-19 state of emergency.

Policy

During the Governor declared State of Emergency in California related to COVID-19, the CDE, Early Learning and Care Division (ELCD) contractors will be supported during periods of temporary physical closure, whether a full physical closure of all classroom/sites or a partial physical closure of one classroom/site or more. Contractors will continue to receive apportionments during such temporary physical closures but must continue program operations to support, children, their families, and staff during the period of emergency closure. Contractors who physically close one or more sites are required to submit an emergency closure request by following the directive below for temporary physical closures related to the COVID-19 state of emergency. Contractors who experience substantial absences related to the COVID-19 state of emergency may also submit an emergency closure request by following the directive below.

This policy applies to the following programs: California Migrant Child Care (CMIG), California State Preschool Program (CSPP), General Child Care (CCTR), Family Child Care Home Education Networks (CFCC) and Care for Children with Severe Disabilities (CHAN). Alternative Payment (AP) program contractors are required to reimburse providers in accordance with directives in MB 20-04.

Additionally, the CDE and the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD) need access to statewide data on child care vacancies in programs that remain open (or reopen) and are eligible to serve families of essential workers or at-risk populations. In order to have a statewide understanding of on-going program and site level operational status, contractors must continue to report it to the state, including the CDE and the CDSS, as applicable, as well as other CDE contractors, such as Resource and Referral (R&R) agencies.

While on-going data reporting on operational status has not been previously required by the CDE, it is clear that an effective response to the current statewide emergency requires up-to-date data in order to ensure the identification of the full range of available early learning and care providers and maximize providers’ ability to quickly serve families. The directive below responds to this need.

Directive

Emergency Closure Requests:

Contractors who close or have low attendance during the COVID-19 state of emergency may submit the COVID-19 Emergency Closure Request online at https://surveys2.cde.ca.gov/go/emergencyclosurereport.asp. In order for the CDE to process emergency closure requests timely, contractors must submit their request by June 1, 2020. This will ensure that contractors have received approval from the CDE prior to submitting year-end fiscal and attendance reports. Emergency closure requests submitted by June 1, 2020, can include physical closures through June 30, 2020, if the contractor plans to be temporarily and physically closed through the end of the fiscal year. The request will be reviewed and approved by the contractor’s assigned ELCD regional consultant.

The period of the emergency closure will be from the first date of physical closure through the date services are resumed (but in no case later than June 30, 2020) as follows:

  • An emergency closure request can be submitted for a full or partial physical closure. The period of physical closure identified should include the period of time in which one or more sites were physically closed through the date all sites resume services.
  • In instances when a contractor does not physically close and has a substantial number of absences due to the COVID-19 state of emergency, the contractor has the option to submit an emergency closure request if it reduces the administrative burden for the contractor. The period of emergency closure identified should include the period of time in which attendance was substantially reduced through the date regular attendance resumes. Contractors who choose not to submit a request can report absences as excused absences on their fiscal and attendance report forms.

In all cases, the emergency closure request may not extend beyond June 30, 2020. The directive and requirements addressed in this MB apply to all circumstances described in this section.

In addition to submitting an emergency closure request, contractors must continue to report ongoing program operational status as directed and requested by the CDE. Contractors who are subject to state licensing must also respond to operational status requests by the CDSS through mechanisms such as the Everbridge, an emergency text/mobile phone communication tool, and, regardless of licensing status, must respond to requests for operational status information by the local R&R.

Requirements for Center-Based Contractors:

With an approved emergency closure request, center-based contractors, including center-based contractors who provide services through a family child care home education network, who are physically closed due to the COVID-19 state of emergency will not have the attendance or days of operation to report during the day(s) or month(s) of physical closure. However, because contractors will be funded to operate, programs must continue to perform activities required by the contract, such as program quality activities, as well as report operating expenses (i.e. wages, benefits, and other overhead costs). The expenses related to these contractually-required activities continue to be reimbursable under the contract during the emergency closure and must continue to be reported to the CDE. Omitting these expenditures from the fiscal and attendance reports may result in reduced reimbursement.

Contractors operating a family child care home education network must work with their providers to ensure program quality activities continue during the emergency closure. Contractors must continue to provide reimbursement to these providers.

Contractors must submit an emergency closure request to ensure that reimbursement is not reduced. CCTR, CMIG, CSPP, and CHAN contractors must submit the ELCD COVID-19 Emergency Closure Request online at https://surveys2.cde.ca.gov/go/emergencyclosurereport.asp. Contractors should submit one emergency closure request for all contracts. Contractors should include any sub-contracts in this request. Additionally, contractors who submit an emergency closure request must provide monthly fiscal and attendance reports for the third quarter (i.e. January, February, and March) to the Child Development and Nutrition Fiscal Services (CDNFS) Unit by May 20, 2020. The CDNFS will use this data to determine the appropriate credit as described below:

  • For contractors that physically closed, partially physically closed, or where attendance was substantially affected mid-March, the CDNFS report should include all days of enrollment and days of operation as if the contractor remained physically open through the end March, but only reflect the actual days of attendance. CDNFS will use the previous month’s data reported on the fiscal and attendance reports to determine the appropriate attendance credit.
  • For contractors that remain physically closed, partially physically closed, or where attendance was substantially affected in the months of April, May, and June, CDNFS will use the previous month’s data reported on the fiscal and attendance reports to determine an appropriate enrollment, attendance, and days of operation credit for the days and months of emergency closure.

An emergency closure approval letter, indicating the approved credit, will be sent by the CDE and will be used as supporting documentation for audit purposes. The year-end fiscal and attendance reports must include the approved emergency closure credit as well as all expenses associated with the contract period.

The CDE understands that some contractors may not have closed all sites. An emergency closure request can be submitted even when the contractor has sites that remain open to serve children of essential workers and at-risk populations as specified in MB 20-06 COVID-19 Guidance Regarding Emergency Childcare for Essential Works and At-Risk Populations. With the exception of new enrollments for children of essential workers and at-risk populations, contractors will not need to submit attendance and enrollment data for the period of emergency closure, as CDNFS will calculate reimbursement based on the third quarter report as described above.

Contractors who enroll new children, pursuant to the directive in MB 20-06 COVID-19 Guidance regarding Emergency Childcare Services for Essential Workers and At-Risk Populations, which can be found at https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/ci/mb2006.asp, will not be receiving emergency closure credit for these children. Contractors that have enrolled children pursuant to MB 20-06 must report the child days of enrollment associated with those families to the CDE to ensure the days of enrollment are included in the reimbursement calculation. In summary, year-end enrollments reported on the CDNFS fiscal and attendance report will be the sum of (1) enrollment prior to the emergency closure (2) emergency closure credits approved by CDE and (3) new enrollments associated with children of essential workers and at-risk populations.

Requirements for CFCC Contractors (providers reimbursed using the regional market rate)

CFCC contractors that have providers who physically closed due to the COVID-19 state of emergency must submit an emergency closure request to ensure reimbursement for ongoing administrative and operational expenses for required contractual activities that occur during this period of emergency closure. Contractors must continue to perform activities required by the contract, such as provider reimbursements, program quality activities, as well as report operating expenses (i.e. wages, benefits, and other overhead costs). Because these expenses will be incurred as the contractor continues its operations, they will continue to be reimbursable under the contract during the temporary physical closure and must continue to be reported to the CDE. Omitting these expenditures from the fiscal and attendance reports may result in reduced reimbursement.

CFCC contractors must work with their providers to ensure program quality activities continue during the emergency closure. Contractors must continue to provide reimbursement to these providers.

CFCC contractors must submit the ELCD COVID-19 Emergency Closure Request online at https://surveys2.cde.ca.gov/go/emergencyclosurereport.asp. Contractors should submit one emergency closure request for all contracts. Contractors should include any sub-contracts in this request. Additionally, CFCC contractors who submit an emergency closure request must provide monthly fiscal reports for the third quarter (i.e. January, February, and March) to CDNFS by May 20, 2020. CDNFS will use the previous data reported on the fiscal reports to determine an appropriate credit. An emergency closure approval letter, indicating the approved credit, will be sent by the ELCD consultant, and will be used as supporting documentation for audit purposes. The year-end fiscal report must include approved provider payment credit as well as the administrative and support costs incurred in the contract period.

The CDE understands that not all providers may have physically closed. An emergency closure request can be submitted even when the contractor has providers that remain open to serve children of essential workers and at-risk populations as specified in MB 20-06 COVID-19 Guidance Regarding Emergency Childcare for Essential Works and At-Risk Populations. With the exception of new enrollments for children of essential workers and at-risk populations, contractors will not need to submit fiscal data for the period of emergency closure, as CDNFS will calculate reimbursement based on the third quarter report as described above.

Contractors who enroll new children pursuant to the directive in MB 20-06 COVID-19 Guidance regarding Emergency Childcare Services for Essential Workers and At-Risk Populations, which can be found at, https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/ci/mb2006.asp will not be receiving emergency closure credit for these children. Contractors that have enrolled children pursuant to MB 20-06 will report the provider payments associated with those families to the CDE to ensure that the provider payments are included in the reimbursement calculation. In summary, year-end direct payments to providers reported will be the sum of (1) provider payments prior to the emergency closure (2) emergency closure credits approved by CDE and (3) provider payments associated with new enrollments for children of essential workers and at-risk populations.

Requirements for Alternative Payment Program Contractors

AP programs provide essential services, such as assisting families with provider changes, processing provider reimbursements, and enrolling children of essential worker families. AP programs must continue to provide these essential program services to the extent possible, during the state declared State of Emergency.

AP contractors are required to reimburse providers in accordance with directives in MB 20-04. In the event MB 20-04 is replaced by a subsequent MB that specifies a different reimbursement directive, AP contractors shall follow the requirements of that MB.

Minimum Days of Operation:

Contractors must not submit Minimum Days of Operation (MDO) reduction requests due to closures as a result of the COVID-19 state of emergency. Contractors will be given credit on an approved emergency closure request for any days of operation that fall within a period of approved emergency closure.

Expenses During a Period of Emergency Closure:

MB 20-04 allows contractors who are closed due to the COVID-19 state of emergency to continue to be funded to operate during the period of closure unless their apportionments were being previously withheld. Contractors must continue to accrue normal business expenses, including program staff wages and benefits and quality contractual requirements, as they existed before the emergency closure. In accordance with fiscal requirements, contractors will be reimbursed based on 5 CCR Section 18054. Failure to report all operating expenses during an emergency closure may result in a reduced apportionment payment.

Program Quality Contractual Requirements During an Emergency Closure:

Direct service contractors (CCTR, CSPP, CMIG, CFCC, and CHAN), including those providing services in a family child care home education network, must develop a plan around modifying program operations to address the needs of children and families who are no longer being served in a physical classroom or physical family child care home education network setting during an emergency closure. For contractors that have closed some or all sites, this plan must be provided to the contractor’s assigned regional consultant by April 30, 2020. This plan must include engaging staff during the emergency closure to provide supportive services to children and families. This plan must include the following services, but may include others:

  • Developing a family engagement plan for disasters
  • Providing online resources and activities for children and families at home, including virtual opportunities
  • To the extent practicable, assisting local efforts to provide child care and development services to essential employees
  • Engaging existing statewide quality projects supporting 5 CCR contractors for local and/or virtual professional development and support activities
  • Engaging external online/virtual professional development opportunities for program staff

For more information on program quality requirements during an emergency closure please see MB 20-09 at: https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/ci/mb2009.asp.

Please refer to your local Quality Counts California agency, Resource and Referral program, Local Planning Councils, and AB 212 Programs for available resources in your county.

Resources

The ELCD has developed a COVD-19 guidance and resource page that includes answers to frequently asked questions, all management bulletins issued to implement pertinent legislation, and other relevant resources at https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/elcdcovid19.asp.

To be informed of the updated information, please sign up for Early Learning and Care Division's email list at https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/ci/progspeclist.asp.

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Community Care Licensing Division has developed Provider Information Notice (PIN) 20-04-CCP, which provides a statewide waiver for operation of child care facilities, including licensees, registered TrustLine providers, and temporary employer sponsored child care, along with guidance for the implementation of prevention, containment, and mitigation measures for the COVID-19 pandemic. This PIN, as well as others, can be found on the CDSS website at https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/community-care-licensing.

For more information about federal and state guidance and response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please refer to the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/index.html, the California Department of Public Health’s website at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/ncov2019.aspx, and the California COVID-19 Response website at https://covid19.ca.gov/.

If you have any questions regarding the information in this MB, please contact your assigned ELCD Regional Consultant at https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/ci/assignments.asp or by phone at 916-322-6233.
________________________________
Stephen Propheter, Director
Early Learning and Care Division

Questions:   Early Learning and Care Division | 916-322-6223
Last Reviewed: Monday, April 27, 2020
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