DHS COVID-19 PROVIDER GUIDANCE // OCDEL
Announcement C-20-04: Suspension of Regulatory Requirements for Certified Child Care
Facilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Issued: August 20, 2020; Sunsets: September 20, 2021
Suspension of Regulatory Requirements for Certified Child Care
Facilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic
To announce that the Department of Human Services (Department) has suspended certain
regulations in 55 Pa. Code Chapters 3270, 3280 and 3290 effective March 6, 2020. This
communication has been revised and amends the announcement to include additional
regulatory suspensions not included in the original communication. Inclusions to this
announcement are in red in the following text.
The suspension remains in place while the Disaster Proclamation is in effect or such other time
as the Department directs
On March 6, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf issued a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency (“Disaster
Proclamation”) to enable agencies to respond promptly to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of
the impact of COVID-19 mitigation efforts on certified child care facilities and with the
Governor’s authorization as conferred in the Disaster Proclamation, the Department has
temporarily suspended the regulatory provisions in 55 Pa. Code Chapters 3270, 3280, 3290
The child care regulations in Chapters 3270, 3280, and 3290 include requirements that the child
care provider must document in order to ensure the health and safety of children. The
disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent mitigation measures have
greatly impacted certified child care facility operations and ability to comply with some regulatory
requirements. Many of the requirements in Chapters 3270, 3280 and 3290 are dependent on the availability of other entities such as medical professionals and training institutions, as well as
a steady rate of attendance of children and communication with parents. The Office of Child
Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) realizes that certified child care facilities cannot
demonstrate compliance with certain regulations.
The regulations discussed below have been suspended in whole or in full; and, or in par or
limited, as described below:
Age and Training
Under regulations in 55 Pa. Code Chapters 3270.31(e) and 3280.31(e), a staff person is
required to obtain an annual minimum of six hours of child care training. Under regulations in 55
Pa. Code Chapter 3290.31(f), a staff person is required to obtain a biennial minimum of twelve
hours of child care training. Staff may not have been able to satisfy the hourly requirements
because staff were not working, or the facility was closed. Much of the professional
development that is typically offered has been suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When professional development is available, child care staff may experience delays in obtaining
the required annual training hours because of limited space in face-to-face sessions or the
limited availability of appropriate material offered through online training sessions.
For these reasons, the Department has suspended this training requirement on a full basis.
Staff whose professional development training was cancelled because of the directives to
mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and have not yet met the requirement of six hours annually
and twelve hours on a biennial basis of professional development will not be required to meet
this requirement until 90 days after Disaster Proclamation is lifted.
The Department has also suspended regulations in 55 Pa. Code Chapters §3270.31(e)(4)(i);
§3280.31(e)(4)(i); §3290.31(f)(4)(1); relating to first-aid training, requirements on a full basis.
These regulations require demonstrating competence in first-aid by the completion of training by
a professional in the field of first-aid. First-aid training must be renewed on or before expiration
of certification or every 3 years, as applicable.
It may also be difficult to reschedule a cancelled training because of lack of available training.
Due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts, many face-to-face first-aid trainings are not available or
have limited space. For a first-aid course to be valid, there must be a face-to-face session for
certain components of the training.
For a facility to be considered compliant with this regulation, a copy of the proof of enrollment for
the training and a copy of the cancellation must be kept in the staff file of any designated staff
person with a certificate that expired due to the cancellation of the training. Staff whose training
was cancelled or whose certificate expired as described above, must schedule first-aid training
within 90 days after the Disaster Proclamation is lifted.
General Requirements for Facility Persons
Under general requirements for facility persons in regulations in 55 Pa. Code Chapters
3270.33(d) and 3280.32(c), one or more facility persons must be competent in first-aid
techniques at the facility when one or more children are in care. Under general requirements for
facility persons in regulations in 55 Pa. Code Chapters 3290.32(d), one of more persons
competent in first-aid techniques shall be at the facility when day care children are in care. The
Department has suspended these regulations on a limited basis because only a portion of the
whole regulation pertains to first-aid. Staff whose training was cancelled or whose certificate
expired as described above, must schedule first-aid training within 90 days after the Disaster
Proclamation is lifted.
Measurement and Use of Indoor Child Care Space
Child care facilities must limit the spread of infection and make accommodations for children
who are ill for a short period of time until the parent can pick up the child. The child care facility
should not experience any safety risk by using unmeasured space since the children with
symptoms are in a separate space and are supervised. In addition, during the COVID-19
pandemic, the number of children enrolled may vary to meet the needs of the community. Child
care facilities may need additional child care space.
Pursuant to regulations in 55 Pa. Code 3270.61(e)and 3280.61(e), measured indoor space
excludes space occupied by halls, bathrooms, offices, kitchens and locker rooms. The
Department has suspended these regulations in full.
Any child who shows symptoms of illness that could potentially be COVID-19 must be isolated
from other children in care until the child can be picked up. OCDEL will allow certified child care
centers and group homes to use non-measured child care space on the premises to isolate the
child as long as the temporary isolation space is free and clear of health and safety hazards and
all other regulations can be met regarding required supervision and staff-to-child ratios. Family
child care homes need to isolate the child but still maintain supervision until the parent can pick
up the child.
Pursuant to regulations in 55 Pa. Code 3270.61(a) and 3280.61(a), a facility is required to
provide indoor child care space for individual and group small muscle activity. 55 Pa. Code
3270.61(b) and 3280.61(b) do not allow indoor child care space to be used simultaneously as
play space. The Department has suspended these regulatory requirements on a full basis.
OCDEL will temporarily allow a certified child care center and group home to convert an indoor
play space to child care space, as long as the facility has outdoor play space. The allowable
number of children in the converted space can be determined by dividing the total square feet in
a space by 40. Child care providers must continue meet staff-to-child ratios
Due to the COVID-19 mitigation efforts impacting child care facilities, such as uneven
attendance patterns for children enrolled in child care facilities and the focus on maintaining a
healthy and safe environment for children, child care facilities may suspend informationgathering efforts to document a child’s growth and development for the child service report.
Many children are not attending child care, so providers do not have parental access to review
documents such as the child service report.
Pursuant to regulations in 55 Pa. Code Chapters 3270.123(a)(3), 3280.123(a)(3) and
3290.123(a)(3) operators and parents must sign an agreement that includes what services are
to be provided to the family and the child, including the Department’s approved form to provide
information to the family about the child’s growth and development in the context of the services
being provided. The operator must complete and update the form and provide a copy to the
family every six months.
The Department has suspended the requirement for child care facilities to complete a child care
service report (the Department’s form) to provide information about the child’s growth and
development. The time period for completing a child’s service report will be within 90 days after
the Disaster Proclamation is lifted..
Emergency Contact Information and Individual Records (Child)
Pursuant to regulations in 55 Pa. Code Chapters 3270.124(f), 3280.124(f) and 3290.124(e), a
parent must review and update in writing, emergency contact information once in a six-month
period or as soon as there is a change in the information. Regulations in Chapters 3270.181(c)
and 3280.181(c) also require a parent to review and update the financial agreement at least
once every six months or as soon as there is a change in the information. Regulations in
Chapters 3270.181(e) and 3280.181(e) further require that if emergency information is updated
in a master file, it must also be updated accordingly in other facility records.
The Department has suspended these regulations on a full basis due to the uneven attendance
patterns for children enrolled in child care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some child
care facilities which may be operating are focused on following guidelines to keep children and
staff healthy (i.e., mitigating the spread of COVID-19), and therefore may not be able to work
with parents to update the emergency contact information every six months. However, the
parent will be reminded to report any change in the information as soon as possible. In addition,
when the operator updates emergency information it does not need to update the master file
and any other facility records. The parent shall update emergency contact information within 90
days after the Disaster Proclamation is lifted.
Child Health Information
Pursuant to regulations in 55 Pa. Code Chapters 3270.131(a) and 3280.131(a), the facility
operator must require the parent of an enrolled child, including a child, a foster child and a
relative of an operator or a facility person, to provide an initial health report no later than 60 days
following the first day at the child attends the facility. Chapter 3290 requires the operator to
obtain the parent of an enrolled child to provide an initial health report no later than 60 days
following the first day of attendance at the facility.
Pursuant to regulations in 55 Pa. Code Chapters 3270.131(b), 3280.131(b), and 3290.131(b)
operators shall require a parent to provide an updated health report in accordance with the
- At least every six months for an infant or young toddler.
- At least every twelve months for an older toddler or preschool child.
The Department has suspended these regulatory requirements on a full basis when child care
facilities are not able to obtain initial or updated medical health report. Due to the COVID-19
pandemic, medical providers may not be available to provide timely examinations for health
reports. Parents may not be able to secure timely appointments for their child to have an
examination for the initial or the required six-month or twelve-month updated health report. The
child care facility must obtain an initial health report within 90 days after the child’s first day of
attendance. The child care facility must obtain the an updated health report within 90 days after
the Disaster Proclamation is lifted
Pick-up and Drop-Off Points
Pursuant to regulations in 55 Pa. Code Chapter 3270.171(a) and 3280.171(a), the operator
shall notify local traffic safety authorities annually in writing of the location of the facility and
about the program’s use of pedestrian and vehicular routes around the day care facility.
The Department has suspended these regulations on a full basis because the provider may be
not operating or is operating under limited conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The
provider has 90 days after the Disaster Proclamation ends or another time directed by the
Department, to notify traffic authorities. The availability of staff to complete paperwork, and the
uneven child attendance in child care facilities which are open, the staff may not have the
opportunity to communicate timely notifications to local traffic safety authorities.
School Age Child Care
Pursuant to regulations in 55 Pa. Code §§ 3270.241(a) and 3280.221(a), if a child is required to
be enrolled in public or private school under the Public School Code of 1949 (24 P. S. § § 1-
101—27-2702) and if the child is not enrolled and if the child is not exempted from enrollment
under the Public School Code, a child day care facility may not admit the child for care during
the hours when the child is required by law to attend public or private school.
The Department has suspended these regulations on a partial basis because local school
districts and private schools are issuing modified schedules and methods of school attendance
during the 2020-2021 school year as a strategy to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. During
days when school age children are not required to attend face-to-face instruction at school due
to the school entity announcing and the child utilizing Hybrid Learning Model or Online/Remote
instruction, a child day care facility may admit a child for care during the hours when the child is
engaged in online or remote instruction.
Statements of Policy
Pursuant to the Statements of Policy at 55 Pa. Code §§ 3270.3a(1) and 3280.3a(1) a part-day
school-age program is one that operates for fewer than 90 consecutive days per calendar year
from the date the program opens to the date the program closes. The Statements of Policy do
not apply to a legal entity that has a certificate of compliance to operate a child care center or
group child care home and that increases its enrollment to include school-age children in the
summer and on school holidays.
The Department has suspended the requirement that part-day school age programs can only
operate 90 consecutive days in a calendar year. Part-day school-age programs operating for
more than 90 days may not operate after September 15, 2020, without obtaining a certificate of
compliance or license issued by the Department or having their individual programmatic
situation reviewed by OCDEL.
The regulatory suspensions discussed above will remain in place while the proclamation of
disaster emergency remains in effect or such other time as the Department directs.
A listing of all suspended regulatory requirements for DHS licensees will be posted to the DHS
website after all DHS program offices have provided appropriate notification and guidance to
their impacted licensees
Child care providers must:
- Read this Announcement and share with appropriate staff
- Make sure required documentation relating to Age and Training as noted above is on file
for an agent of the Department to review at the time of inspection
- Post a copy of this announcement with the copy of the Child Care Regulations available
for families at your facility
Comments and Questions Regarding this Announcement Should be Directed to the Provider’s Regional Office of
Child Development and Early Learning: Central Region 800-222-2117; Northeast Region 800-222-2108; Southeast
North and Southeast South Region 800-346-2929; Western Region 800-222-2149.