Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP)

DCYF is working closely with the Governor’s office, Department of Health (DOH) and The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) on guidance and recommendations related to ECEAP services. These FAQs are intended to provide guidance around how to safely care for children in care while ensuring the safety of the adults caring for them, and to support contractors in determining when they need to modify ECEAP services. Included are the questions and answers we have received to date. We also note where we do not yet have answers. We will continue to respond to questions in a timely manner as the situation evolves.

For questions, please:

If you have questions specific to child care, please read the Early Learning FAQ.

On Closing

No, ECEAP providers are not under a mandate to stay open or closed at this time.  Decisions, such as a voluntary closure during a health outbreak, are business decisions each facility makes on their own and in consultation with their local health department, tribal health jurisdiction, and ECEAP contractor (if applicable).  

During an outbreak such as we are seeing, DCYF is working closely with DOH.  Our recommendations and guidance to providers during health outbreaks are always informed by these agencies to assure that people get the most accurate and up to date information.  DOH has provided extensive guidance on what early learning and child care programs can do to be proactive in addressing the concern: 

We encourage ECEAP contractors to make educated decisions about service delivery based upon what information and recommendations are coming from the DOH, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Those decisions are supported by DCYF ECEAP.  Closures in heavily impacted areas is an important part of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and many ECEAP providers are following school district closures.

ECEAP contractors who determine that a site needs to be closed must plan for and implement modified services to children and families. For more information on modified services ideas see questions below. Contact your CQI specialist to share details of planned modified services.

If you do choose to close for any period of time, for closure notifications, please:

  • Email the ECEAP inbox at eceap@dcyf.wa.gov
  • Copy your assigned CQI Specialist on the email

For questions:

Please also share any plans for providing modified services to families with your CQI specialist.

At this time, the Washington Department of Health (DOH) would support a closure if someone with a novel coronavirus case spent time in an early learning setting and had contacts with other individuals who are ill. In this situation, DOH and local public health department will work with DCYF leadership to consider the duration of the closure and to determine other steps that should be taken to limit spread. In addition, tribal health jurisdiction’s recommendations on closures for tribal ECEAP contractors and sites can also be followed.

Additional reasons for closing sites include:

  • Staffing shortages
  • Highly impacted attendance
  • Social distancing
  • Other reasons deemed significant by ECEAP contractors

ECEAP contractors who determine that a site needs to be closed, must plan for and implement modified services to children and families. For more information on modified services ideas see questions below. Contact your CQI specialist to share details of planned modified services.

We know not all ECEAP providers can stay open during this time – whether due to safety or operational challenges. In these situations modified services for children and families must be implemented. We are working to be in alignment with Head Start around modified options.

For Head Start Grantees, Head Start’s initial guidance can be found on the ECKLC website here: https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/physical-health/article/coronavirus-prevention-response

Closing K-12 schools statewide is aimed at maximizing “social distancing.” Social distancing actions are taken to restrict when and where people can gather to stop or slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or other infectious diseases in communities. You can find out more information about this on the DOH website. While closing schools statewide helps achieve this goal, it also increases the need for child care for some families and isolates families furthest from opportunity. 

In addition, early learning settings are often much smaller in numbers than in K-12 settings. Children in early learning are in smaller groups throughout the day and not often in larger groups. Group sizes remain smaller in classrooms and there are not larger gatherings in hallways, gyms or cafeterias like we see in K-12 schools.

Early learning programs are also needed to support child care for priority populations. School closures will be most effective in slowing the spread of the virus if the overwhelming majority of children, including children under age 5, stay at home or receive care in small group settings that follow DOH guidance throughout the closure period. See question below in “Continuing Operations” regarding who is considered a priority population

Below you can find updated guidelines and rules for the safe operation of school-based child care according to the most current CDC recommendations, as well as updated guidance for child care, including all early learning settings that decide to remain open.

https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/NovelCoronavirusOutbreak2020/ChildCare

PDF Version: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/ChildCareResources.pdf

Continuing Operations

Modified Services Topics

Yes, we want the family to continue to receive services. When next year’s programming begins, if they are still outside of your service area, we encourage you to talk with the family about transferring to a contractor or site closer to their community. That way, they can be connected to more localized services and have ECEAP services closer to home.

We still require a parent/guardian signature on the Parent Consent to Transfer ELMS Records between ECEAP Contractors form.

This form is not submitted to DCYF and is the responsibility of the requesting contractor to manage internally.

Here are some suggestions for acquiring signatures during COVID-19:

  • Set up a secure file transfer
  • Have parents show staff documentation via virtual platforms, which would need to have safety controls to maintain confidentiality
  • Parent mails documentation at no cost to the family
  • Front porch pick up by ECEAP staff

We do not recommend emailing documentation without a secured setup to ensure confidentiality.

It is best practice to receive parent permission before mailing or having items shipped from a retailer to a family’s home. In addition, we want to ensure that services remain free for families. While this might be free for them now, we want to ensure this will not become a burden after COVID closures. It would also be advisable to make an agreement with the retailer or supplier that families are not added to the company’s mailing list for additional paid services. Lastly, DCYF has also gathered multiple options from ECEAP Contractors across the state on how they are giving out books to families during this time. These ideas include:

  • Books sent home or picked up:
    • With grab and go meal packages
    • Via front porch delivery
    • In backpacks with additional educational activities, connected to curriculum or themes for the week
  • Page Ahead donated books sent home

For more questions about continued practices, including giving books to families, please join the DCYF Basecamp site for ongoing discussions and sharing of resources between staff across the state.

DCYF ECEAP has waived the requirements for family support visits for the following:

  • To count as one of the required formal family support visits, each visit must be:
    • Face-to-face with the parent
  • Documentation in ELMS:
    • Of goals, including mid-year goal check-in
    • Post-assessment

However, continuing to follow the Family Engagement and Partnership Principles and providing modified Family Support Visits and Family Support Visit Content is still required.

For the requirement around 30 minute visits with families, we realize that some ECEAP Contractors will have the capabilities and capacity to do this, and some may not. This requirement is modified, with each ECEAP Contractor doing what they can to meet the requirement, and modifying it when it is necessary.

Given this, DCYF ECEAP is providing additional guidance to the field around Remote Coaching and ways you can continue to provide a Mobility Mentoring® informed approach with families throughout Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order.

ECEAP will work with contractors to adjust requirements and partner in developing exceptions as needed around this requirement in an effort to eliminate the spread of COVID-19. Following a family’s lead around what is discussed at these visits is in alignment with the requirements and most appropriate when families are expressing fears and uncertainty. ECEAP Directors can contact the CQI specialist who they work with to talk through specific needs and planning.

 

If you have determined that you are unable to provide full ECEAP services for children and families following the DOH guidance, you are allowed to provide modified services rather than stopping services all together. This will allow you to continue to support children and families in some way and will also give staff an opportunity to keep working.

Examples/Ideas of Modified Services:

  • Sending learning materials/activities home that align with curriculum,
  • Online platforms
  • Virtual check-ins with families for support and goal setting/check ins (i.e. Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, emails, text messaging and phone calls)
  • Providing food to families

Individual exceptions for alternative attendance plans are not needed. DCYF ECEAP will process blanket exceptions for contractors during this outbreak.

If you are providing modified services, blanket exceptions will be provided and accepted for regular program activity requirements, such as:

  • Daily routines
  • Service delivery (dosages of class time per day, number of weeks, minimum house per year, etc.)
  • In-person family support services
  • Nursing, mental health, etc. consulting
  • Etc.

Yes, DCYF recommends finding ways to increase learning opportunities for staff during site closures or when low numbers of children are attending ECEAP services. Ideas can include:

  • Ensuring that staff have access to cameras so they can more fully participate in online learning communities you create
  • Encouraging staff to participate in online learning opportunities provided by DCYF ECEAP (more information coming soon around this)
  • Creating virtual or telephonic book groups on topics related to Early Learning
  • Bringing smaller groups of staff together in-person while following local, state, and tribal health department guidance on how to do this safely

Please email your CQI specialist to let them know about specific impacts to Parent Teacher Conferences and Family Support Visits, and to let them know the sites where these changes are occurring. DCYF ECEAP will create blanket exceptions for your programming as needed.

Yes. As we continue to collect information around what individual ECEAP Contractors are doing, we plan to share it in a document. For now, here are some promising practices occurring:

  • Meal or food voucher pick up and distribution. Some have arranged pick up sites, some are distributing via school buses and dropping food on porches, etc.
  • Ordering supplies in bulk for families, such as: diapers, wipes, soap, thermometers, baby food and formula.
  • Sending information and materials home to families on multiple topics, such as:
    • Developmentally appropriate education sites
    • Free internet
    • Books and activities centered around curriculum sent home, some via front porch delivery
    • STEM bags
    • Video libraries sent virtually or added to private social media pages
    • Zoom presentations of family workshops
    • Ready Rosie parenting education videos
    • Private social media group to facilitate ongoing parent education and resource sharing
  • Lessons via virtual platforms, such as:
    • Second Step
    • Child protection unit
    • Circle time
    • Mental health consultations
  • Professional development, such as:
    • Video series for teachers to explore around topics like adult-child interactions, higher-order thinking and language skills, STEM strategies

For more information, please see the Modified Services Document on the DCYF COVID-19 Updates page under ECEAP.

Some provide devices paid with ECEAP or other funds, others use apps or services that makes a personal phone show up as the business or alternate phone number instead. We will continue to share more information on how ECEAP Contractors are adjusting to this as we receive it.

We are not requiring specific trainings or check-in platforms for staff at this time. Each ECEAP Contractor can put together a plan for what works best for their staff. DCYF ECEAP will be providing weekly check-in webinars for ECEAP directors and creating access to Basecamp where family support and education staff can connect, learn what others are doing, share resources, and hear about trainings available. We will also cover requested topics in the weekly check-ins with family support and education staff.

However, we will continue to require ECEAP Contractors to provide information and documentation on what services, either modified or emergency care, they are providing. This will be required to continue payment. Please see the question around required documentation for modified services for more information.

Yes. We highly encourage this as a good way to connect with children and continue similar activities that children would have in classrooms. Reading live over a virtual platform is a good way to do this.

When staff record read aloud books we recommend to always start by reading the title of the book, author's name, and publishing company. We also recommend that recorded readings only be posted on private platforms or social media groups, instead of public venues such as YouTube.

Supporting Families in ECEAP Topics

When completing midyear check-ins in ELMS, you have three options:

  1. Goal was achieved by original target date
  2. Goal was achieved by extended target date
  3. Goal was discontinued

Original Target Date: If the goal was achieved by the original target date, please enter the date completed on or before the target date.

Extended Target Date: If the goal was achieved by the extended target date, please enter the date the goal was completed on or before the revised target date. If the target completion date was extended due to COVID-19, please indicate this in your Progress Note (entered as Family Support Notes in ELMS). This date must be within the 2019-20 school year.

Discontinued Goals: If the goal was discontinued, please enter the date the goal was discontinued and the reason why it was discontinued. If the goal was discontinued due to COVID-19 please enter “COVID-19” as the reason.

Family Support staff can enter goal updates as Family Support Notes in ELMS.

Please email elms@dcyf.wa.gov with any questions.

Connect with the family by phone or other alternative method (such as text messaging, video call options, or online platforms) whenever it is possible. If it is not possible, reschedule for a later date.

Additional Examples/Ideas of Modified Services:

  • Sending learning materials/activities home that align with curriculum
  • Online platforms
  • Virtual check-ins with families for support and goal setting/check ins (i.e. Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, emails, text messaging and phone calls)

If you are planning to continue providing home visit services, we strongly encourage you to conduct a simple assessment prior to making home visits or having visits in offices. In the assessment, ask:

  • If anyone in the household is currently sick;
  • Has anyone in the household been in contact with anyone known to have COVID-19;
  • Does anyone in the household have underlying health conditions?

If you are not planning to continue home visits, please consider the following guidance:

Connect with the family by phone or other alternative method (such as text messaging, video call options, or online platforms) whenever it is possible. If it is not possible, reschedule for a later date.

Additional Examples/Ideas of Modified Services:

  • Sending learning materials/activities home that align with curriculum,
  • Online platforms
  • Virtual check-ins with families for support and goal setting/check ins (ie. Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, emails, text messaging and phone calls)

ECEAP staff do not have automatic access to the full Ready Rosie resource, as this requires a paid Ready Rosie account.  Ready Rosie is providing specialized content for free on their website at this time, called Healthy at Home: A Toolkit for Supporting Families Impacted by COVID-19, which is in English and Spanish.  Content will be updated weekly.  To get access to the full Ready Rosie content, go to their website for more information about getting an account.

Yes. Modified services to families should be provided to families who need or choose to stay home due to COVID-19 and they should not be dis-enrolled.

Your ECEAP contract allows the use of ECEAP funds to support families. As long as you have good internal controls around gift cards, this is something you can use for supporting families. Here is some more guidance:

  • The gift card needs to be a limited gift card that does not allow for the purchase of alcohol, tobacco, or firearms. When purchasing gift cards make sure they are for stores that families are able to access. Before purchase of the cards, please ensure this limitation is in place.
    • E-certificates through Amazon have options such as limitations in both dollar amounts, and for particular items.
    • The more specific the gift card, the better. For example, a gift card to the local butcher that only sells meat/food which is a basic living need, is a safe gift card purchase.
    • Visa/MasterCard cards are the most flexible, but normally have an expiration date.

Our general philosophy is that we should trust our families to make good choices with gift cards we give them. Please reach out to the ECEAP inbox at eceap@dcyf.wa.gov with any additional questions.

Health Related Topics

If you do not have a forehead or disposable thermometer available at your site for daily temperature checks, the DOH guidance allows you to have the child’s caregiver self-report absence of fever when dropping the child off for services, if you are comfortable with that.

  • Practice frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and require handwashing upon entering the classroom, before meals or snacks, after outside time, after going to the bathroom, and prior to leaving for home. Help young children to ensure they are doing it effectively.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Advising children, families, and staff to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Covering coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash and cleaning hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer (if soap and water are not readily available).
  • Urging children and staff to get a flu shot during the flu season.
  • Providing adequate supplies for good hygiene, including clean and functional handwashing stations, soap, paper towels, and alcohol‐based hand sanitizer.

Talk to your health care professional, review the CDC’s guidance for higher risk populations, and consider a closure. Reach out to your CQI specialist to see if there’s a solution to offer temporary staffing.

For closure notifications:

  • Email the ECEAP inbox at eceap@dcyf.wa.gov
  • Copy your assigned CQI Specialist on the email

Although you may experience a staff shortage, if staff call in sick or present with symptoms, they cannot be on site.

Monitor the situation and close classrooms if needed. Communicate with families ASAP and include expected re-open date if possible, as well as site contact information during closure.

For closure notifications, please:

  • Email the ECEAP inbox at eceap@dcyf.wa.gov
  • Copy your assigned CQI Specialist on the email

For questions, please:

This will be up to the individual contractor.

If you decide to continue toothbrushing in the classroom, please consider using extra precautions. Carefully observe tooth brushing and consider how germs might spread.

If you are continuing toothbrushing please consider the following:

  • Staff should wear gloves while monitoring children during toothbrushing
  • Having less children brush at a time
  • Sanitizing toothbrushes every day
  • Ensure children and staff wash hands after toothbrushing
  • Utilize sanitation procedures found on the DOH websites for schools or child care:
  • If toothbrushing occurs at circle time, consider further distance between children.

When to consider temporary suspension of toothbrushing in the classroom:

  • If any of the above is not able to be in place for any reason.
  • When warranted by family and/or staff concerns.

If you choose to temporarily suspend toothbrushing for children, you will not be found out of compliance in meeting this requirement. DCYF understands that stopping this activity will help to decrease the spread of germs. Communicate any changes in the regular routine to families as soon as possible, sharing what the change is and how you are accommodating it.

The Washington State Department of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington, or how the virus is spread, please call 1-800-525-0127. Phone lines are currently staffed from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Please note that this call center cannot access COVID-19 testing results. For testing inquiries or results, please contact your health care provider. 

For more information, please visit the DOH website: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus

For information specific to your area, please contact your regional health district. A list of websites for regional health districts can be found here:  Local Health Jurisdictions

After checking with our DCYF Health Systems Analyst and the L&I Medical Director, it is okay to do mandatory temperature checks of staff each day.

Meal Service Topics

Yes, ECEAP contractors are allowed to suspend family-style meal service as a way to minimize contamination and the spread of germs. 

Contractors can suspend family-style meal service for the 2020-21 school year and should use their own discretion to proceed with the safest and most logical meal service strategy.

Contractors are encouraged to refer to the recommendations of your county’s health department, the DOH coronavirus webpage and/or the CDC’s coronavirus website to find the most up-to-date resources and recommendations to help keep children, families, and staff safest during the spread of this virus.For Head Start Grantees, the Region X Office of Head Start has also approved the suspension of family-style meal service. The USDA has extended this waiver through August 31, however, contractors can continue to serve individual meals past this date and practice social distancing into the fall.

All Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) programs – including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs – have flexibilities and contingencies built-in to allow them to respond to on-the-ground realities in the event of a disaster or emergency situation.

For more information on FNS programs, visit:  https://www.fns.usda.gov/disaster/pandemic.

For more information about the coronavirus response across USDA, visit: www.usda.gov/coronavirus.

Providing Care Topics

The group sizes are recommendations from the Department of Health.

View additional guidance

Spanish and Somali versions are available under "Schools and Child Care"

While these are recommendations at this time, they are science-based guidelines and meant to be implemented to curb the spread of the virus. We will continue to refer to and highly recommend the Department of Health’s guidelines for safe operation of child care and early learning.

In addition, we encourage you to keep up to date with Governor Inslee's phased-in approach to recovery. Find details

 

Yes, ECEAP classrooms can remain open. If ECEAP Contractors want to keep classrooms open within district buildings, please work with your school district to find ways for ECEAP classrooms to remain open.

If you have closed an ECEAP classroom and are providing modified services to families, you are allowed to use the ECEAP classroom, materials and staff in support of community emergency child care efforts for pre-determined priority populations at this time. Since modified services are still required, you have to determine how much the ECEAP staff could reasonably provide to a non-ECEAP classroom serving prioritized populations while still providing required modified services.

To increase capacity to serve children at licensed child care sites, please:

ECEAP Contractors can also advocate with districts to keep ECEAP classrooms open as others have done as they saw the need to do so.

DCYF will not make changes to ratios at this time. Please work with your licensor if you have a licensed facility and submit a request for a waiver, based on what you can provide. All sites should follow the current guidance around group size provided by the DOH.

Yes, that is the current guidance from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). They state to “Reduce group sizes to no larger than 10 people total, including children and adults (e.g., one adult and nine children, two adults and eight children, etc.). Keep groups together throughout the day, do not combine groups (e.g., at opening and closing). To the degree possible, maintain the same groups from day to day. This will help reduce potential exposures and may prevent an entire program from shutting down if exposure does occur.”

You can read more at DOH

At this time, DCYF recommends:

  • Following the Early Learning, ECEAP, and Child Care Licensing updates on the DCYF COVID-19 page
  • If you are interested in providing care to identified prioritized populations beyond the ECEAP children you serve please contact your CQI specialist and email the staff leading this work at emergencychildcare@dcyf.wa.gov. This group is identifying sites and working to gather supplies and additional resources that may be needed. 
  • Having classroom staff, instructional leadership staff, and coaches participate in the DCYF ECEAP Basecamp for classroom staff. There will be ongoing sharing of resources and ideas on this platform.

Yes, parents should try to keep their children at home. However, this is not always possible. Alternate care arrangements are particularly important for identified vulnerable populations, our medical workers, first responders and others serving vital functions during this public health emergency.

You can read more at DOH

Documenting Services

Using ELMS from home is as secure as the device and security practices you apply at home. Contractors may want to review best security practices with any staff using ELMS from home and apply best judgement about which users should connect to ELMS from home.

ELMS itself is a secure, web-based data system, protected by firewalls and anti-virus scanning of all DCYF servers. It is secure for use from homes. Please see the Security Practices - ELMS Users document for more information.

Documentation in TSG is not required during this time. You may continue to document observations as they are useful to your ongoing programming goals and needs. Documentation in ELMS is highly recommended to help track ongoing services to families.

At this time, the documentation requirements for modified services are:

  • Updating your CQI Specialist and the ECEAP inbox at eceap@dycf.wa.gov about modified and continued services on regular Contractor Calls and as changes develop
  • Contacting your CQI Specialist and the ECEAP inbox at eceap@dycf.wa.gov  to let them know if you are interested in or are providing care for children from pre-determined priority populations
  • Complete ongoing documentation of services as determined by DCYF

Additional information regarding modified services and documentation can be found in the 3/20/2020 email communication to ECEAP Directors from Karin Ganz, ECEAP Administrator. We will continue to update you with further guidance around documentation requirements as we continue to fine-tune requirements.

We will be flexible with the timing of documentation requirements during this outbreak according to the barriers and needs of each contractor. If staff have no internet access at home, it is fine to have them document using a different method (such as paper, Word documents, etc.) until they have access to internet again. Please let your CQI Specialist know of this temporary change.

If staff do have access to the internet, they can access ELMS from any browser with their regular login information. You can access the database by going to the ECEAP section of the DCYF website, clicking “ELMS” on the left sidebar, and clicking “ELMS Database” under the title “ELMS Resources” on the page. If they need help accessing their login information or password, staff can email ELMS at elms@dcyf.wa.gov.

ECEAP staff who have access to ELMS will continue to document contacts with families in ELMS.

Documentation should include, but not be limited to:

  • Resources and referrals provided to families
  • Any follow up from previous meetings/conversations
  • Modified goal setting
  • Transition to kindergarten activities
  • Supports provided to families such as meals, clothing, and supplies
  • Crisis and stress management supports

Contractors who have staff that are unable to access ELMS should instruct staff to use handwritten case notes. Case notes must also be stored in a safe and confidential location. Contractors should contact their CQI specialist with the names and locations of staff who will not be entering data into ELMS.

ECEAP staff who have access to ELMS will continue to document educational activities in ELMS.

Documentation should include, but not be limited to:

  • Virtual check-ins with families for support and goal setting/check ins (i.e., Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, emails, text messaging and phone calls)
  • Learning materials/activities sent home that align with curriculum
  • Videos and video libraries sent virtually or added to private social media pages
  • Resources and referrals
  • Follow ups on referrals and ongoing needs

Contractors who have staff that are unable to access ELMS should instruct staff to use handwritten case notes. Case notes must also be stored in a safe and confidential location.

Contractors should contact their CQI specialist with the names and locations of staff who will not be entering data into ELMS.

Contractors count all class sessions normally until modified services began in mid-March. Once modified services began, contractors should count services provided daily (collectively for one or more children) as having completed a class session for the given day. If only one family is provided services on a given day, it may still be counted as a day in which a class session occurred.

Examples of types of modified services that count both toward class session days and are entered in other areas in ELMS:

  • Counted by an occurrence as defined in ECEAP Performance Standards
    • Parent-Teacher Conferences
    • Family Support Conferences/Meetings
  • Counted by the number of participants and hours, as usual
    • Parent Education
  • Text box for data entry, as usual
    • Referrals and Resources

For types of modified support services please refer to the Modified Services in ECEAP document for ideas.

Yes, these services count toward class sessions and may include separate data entry in family support, parent-teacher conference or parent education. When completing the monthly report that includes modified services instead of classroom-based services, contractors still select ‘yes’ in the preschool class sessions box in Section 1 of the monthly report. All types of outreach services may be entered into the monthly report.

All family contacts may be counted toward class sessions on the day provided. Enter information as usual for family contact based on the content that was covered. If multiple areas are covered during a family contact, each would be recorded in ELMS as usual and the contact would also be counted toward a class session being held on that day.

For the total number of students on the last day of the month, use the total unduplicated number of children that have been provided modified services at some point in the month.

DCYF is unable to build electronic ECEAP applications for the 2020-2021 school year due to time constraints and limited resources. We are in the process of exploring if this is something we can build for the 2021-2022 school year.

For right now, some ideas to consider include but are not limited to:

  • Contractors can mail blank prescreen/applications with stamped return envelopes that families can then complete and mail back to the Contractor.

  • Staff can conduct phone/virtual interviews to complete the prescreen and application directly into ELMS. Parents will need to sign the completed application before or on the child’s first day of class.

For whatever option contractors are choosing, this process must still be free for parents to complete.

Once you have documentation from families, staff still need to verify eligibility documentation (eligibility to enroll, income and family size) before enrolling the child. This could be done by:

  • Contractors setting up secure file transfers.
  • Having parents show staff documentation via virtual platforms, which would need to have safety controls to maintain confidentiality.
  • The parent mailing in documentation with no cost to the family.
  • Front porch pickup by ECEAP staff.

We would not recommend emailing documentation without a secured setup to ensure confidentiality. 

When verifying documentation is not possible, please reach out to your CQI Specialist for additional ideas. We understand that this may result in an increase of parent statements to verify eligibility for the 2020-21 school year.

General Topics

DCYF ECEAP is working with ECEAP Directors weekly to develop recommendations on plans for next year, including topics around enrollment. We anticipate guidance around the 2020-21 school year to be available soon. Our intent is to be flexible where we can and support contractors during this crisis.

We will also consider other changes that can be made to ensure children and families continue to be served. DCYF ECEAP is currently working on a revised Enrollment Policy that we hope will bring both clarity and flexibility to enrollment expectations moving forward, while balancing the need to use state funds appropriately.

Do not count the COVID-19 unemployment received from the CARES Act as income. This is unemployment received between March 1-July 25, 2020. Please utilize the current eligibility and enrollment processes in ELMS. This is in alignment with Head Start and is intended to give more stability to families experiencing crisis due to COVID-19.

Re-verification of Working Day eligibility is temporarily suspended just for this school year for working families who temporarily lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ECEAP Contractors can use pre-COVID-19 working hours to enter into ELMS for Working Day families.

Yes. For this year, you may use anticipated work hours for families who believe they will be going back to work as the state advances through the phases of reopening. While this creates additional flexibility for families to become eligible for Working Day ECEAP, this is a special circumstance.

ECEAP Contractor staff must use their best judgment and build in processes that still prioritize the working families furthest from opportunity and those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

The 30-hour Child Care Basics online course will be launched during the summer of 2020. Contractors will be informed when the course becomes available.

For information about outdoor preschool in Washington, please visit DCYF’s Outdoor Preschool Pilot page.

At this time we are not changing end dates on the class information page in ELMS to match modified services. You can leave the end date that was expected before modified services were in place. When exiting children, please enter exit dates using the following guidelines:

  • If children are attending in class sessions, enter the date the child last attended in-person.
  • If offering modified services, enter the date that the site the child is enrolled at last offered (or was available to be provide) approved modified services.

Governor Inslee made the tough decision to veto some items from the 2020 Supplemental Budget to ease the coming financial issues from the COVID-19 crisis. Here is a list of ECEAP-related items:

  • 5% ECEAP slot rate increase was vetoed
  • $2.2 million for the ECEAP Complex Needs Rate was maintained
  • ECEAP Expansion Slots, determined in the 2019 Operating Budget, were maintained
  • $375,000 for DCYF to coordinate the Integrated Early Learning plan was maintained

In addition, the federal funding for the Preschool Development Grant is still intact, which means Early ECEAP and other activities under the implementation phase of the PDG will still move forward.

At this time, both ECEAP Expansion Slots for 2020-21 and Early ECEAP pilot slots are still funded.

The Governor and the Legislature will continue to assess the financial situation in the coming months, and may need to propose additional cuts to help avoid financial crisis.

No, you do not need to only serve priority populations. You may serve anyone currently enrolled in ECEAP that has a need, as space and staff are available, and as your programming allows you to implement social distancing guidance provided by the DOH. Priority populations are currently under development and will be shared as soon as possible.

The Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” proclamation did list child care workers as part of the priority populations group. DCYF is currently determining how to prioritize care for the children of individuals listed in the proclamation. Until then continue to check this Q&A, as well as the one on the Early Learning section of the DCYF-COVID-19 website, under Provider Supports

If you continue classroom services, you are encouraged to follow this guidance in operating ECEAP classrooms during this time period. If this recommendation is not viable for your ECEAP classrooms, we encourage you to consider modified service methods. Practice social distancing to the extent possible, following the DOH Guidance document.

Make decisions around continuing ECEAP classroom operations based on what works best for and is needed for your families, communities, and staff. DCYF ECEAP will support you in whatever programming decisions you need to make.

Please see the DOH guidance here: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/NovelCoronavirusOutbreak2020/ChildCare

We encourage you to make decisions around continuing ECEAP classroom operations based on what works best for and is needed for your families, communities, and staff. DCYF ECEAP will support you in whatever programming decisions you need to make. DOH has made recommendations on how to practice social distancing in classrooms here: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/NovelCoronavirusOutbreak2020/ChildCare

Follow up as soon as possible when you don’t know why a child is missing from school. If the absence is related to prevention of, or exposure to COVID-19, make sure to gather information so that you know if there needs to be an elevated response. Reference the DOH Coronavirus Webpage for more information about what to do in the event of potential coronavirus exposure.

Similar to other circumstances when parents are unresponsive, in this case you are also encouraged to use alternative modes of contact such as phone calls, texts, email, virtual platforms, and home visits (if deemed safe) to get in contact with the family.

No, please keep families enrolled.

As soon as possible, contact the CQI specialist who supports you and alert them to modified services you are trying to provide across your programming to support children and families staying home for preventative reasons. Individual exceptions are not needed for COVID-19 reasons. DCYF ECEAP will process blanket exceptions for contractors during this outbreak. If children are absent for an extended period of time for a reason other than COVID-19, share this information with your CQI specialist.

DCYF ECEAP is working to be in alignment with the Office of Head Start as it is appropriate to the situation in Washington State. While DCYF ECEAP tries to be in alignment with Head Start as consistently as possible we also have an obligation to follow directives from state leaders and elected officials. This means that we cannot be in alignment with Head Start guidance and requirements 100% of the time. In a recent communication to Head Start/Early Head Start, ECEAP, and ECLIPSE Directors, we laid out some commonalities and differences in how each program is responding to the newest COVID-19 directives in the state, mainly Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” proclamation.

In Governor Inslee’s new “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” proclamation, nothing significant will change about continuing to deliver emergency or modified services to ECEAP children. In fact, many ECEAP children fall into the vulnerable populations the Governor identified as needing to continue services for, which he calls “uniquely vulnerable”. At DCYF ECEAP, we see this population as enrolled ECEAP children or families:

  • Experiencing homelessness
  • In foster or kinship care
  • Involved with CPS or ICW
  • Experiencing domestic violence
  • With an IEP or special needs
  • At or below 130% FPL

The items bulleted items above are intended to help support you in your decision making around serving families if classroom stay open. Additionally, DOH guidance highly recommends that parents should try to keep children home whenever possible during this time. We understand this may not always be possible due to a variety of needs and circumstances. Along with the guidance above, we trust that you know your children and families best, and you will provide the individualized services that families need during this time. If you have ECEAP questions about the Governor’s proclamation, or modified services, please email the ECEAP inbox at eceap@dcyf.wa.gov and your CQI specialist.

At the time of this Q&A, 39 ECEAP sites have classrooms open, out of 385. The rest are either providing modified services, or we do not yet have information on. The sites with classrooms still open represents a little over 10% of all ECEAP sites, with the rest planning for or implementing modified services.

No. At this time we have stopped our regular tracking of enrollment vacancies because a large majority of ECEAP classrooms are closed. We will resume when regular services begin again.

DCYF is in the process of pulling together virtual trauma informed care webinars for Mental Health Consultants in partnership with Region X T & TA and DCYF Trauma Informed Care staff. A webinar is also being developed for family support and education staff as well on this topic. We will continue to update our lists of trainings and resources around online trainings and resources for trauma and trauma-informed care. Until then here are some first recommendations:

Screening, prevention and reacting to COVID exposure

The length of the closure will be determined based on multiple factors, including the number of cases and the number and types of exposure that other individuals at the site may have had, as well as the underlying health of the student population served. A closure could last anywhere from a few days up to a few weeks, depending on the circumstances.

Yes, if DOH or the local public health department is aware of a case in an ECEAP site, they will contact key personnel, such as the site director. Because testing has expanded in the health care system, it’s possible that families of students or staff will find out test results from their health care providers before DOH or the local public health department is notified. In these situations, we recognize that it’s possible that the ECEAP site will be notified directly by the family. If a director or owner is notified by a family, they should alert their local public health office and follow guidance about cleaning and notification to families.

We recommend ECEAP sites take the precautions that are normally recommended to prevent the spread of viruses in early learning settings and follow the DOH guidance around caring for children during COVID-19. You can help children and staff reduce their risk for getting and spreading viral respiratory infections, including the flu and the common cold, by encouraging them to take simple steps that will also prevent novel coronavirus. These include:

  • Staying home when they are sick.
  • Frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after they blow their nose. Help young children do the same. If hands are visibly dirty, use soap and water to clean hands.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, for children over the age of 2.
  • Advising persons to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Following the site’s routines for cleaning, disinfection, and laundering. Emphasizing cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Covering coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash and cleaning hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer (if soap and water are not readily available).
  • Providing adequate supplies for good hygiene, including clean and functional handwashing stations, soap, paper towels, and alcohol‐based hand sanitizer.

ECEAP and child care rules require regular cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting of toys and materials. The DOH has provided guidance that you can find here under “Cleaning and disinfecting procedures”. Use all cleaning products according to directions on the label.

You can also find more information at the CDC Disinfecting page.

In addition to the strategies noted above under protecting children and staff and cleaning/disinfecting, you can screen children upon entry.  Take temperatures and check symptoms for staff and children upon entry. It is important to remember to create assessment stations that maintain privacy, confidentiality and respect for those being evaluated. COVID-19 symptoms primarily include fever, or cough, or shortness of breath. Any child or staff member with symptoms should be sent home.

Sample questions to help with screening are provided by DSHS.

Step 1: Take the individual’s temperature.

      Is the individual’s temperature greater than or equal to (≥) 100.4 °?

YES                                                                                  NO

If yes, proceed to step 6.                                                If no, proceed to step 2.   

Step 2: Have you experienced a new cough within the last 14 days?

YES                                                                                  NO

If yes, proceed to step 6.                                                If no, proceed to step 3. 

Step 3: Have you experienced shortness of breath within the last 14 days?

YES                                                                                  NO

If yes, proceed to step 6.                                                If no, proceed to step 4. 

Step 4: Have you had direct contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?

YES                                                                                  NO

If yes, proceed to step 6.                                                If no, proceed to step 5. 

Step 5: Have you travelled internationally within the last 14 days?

YES                                                                                  NO

If yes, proceed to step 6.                                                If no, proceed to step 7. 

Step 6: If the individual has a fever ≥ 100.4° or answered “YES” to any of the questions, they will not be allowed into the facility. Advise the individual to contact their primary healthcare provider and follow that organizations instructions. 

Step 7: If the individual does not have a fever ≥ 100.4° and has answered “NO” to all of the questions, they will then be allowed to enter the facility.

See the DOH website for more recommendations: DOH Coronavirus Webpage

Any person who exhibits flu-like symptoms (primarily fever, cough or shortness of breath) should not be at work or in care. Sick individuals should stay home and away from others and contact their health care provider.  The health care provider can assess the individual’s risk and determine whether they should be tested for novel coronavirus.

In emergency cases, please call 9-1-1. Follow your ECEAP site’s health policies and procedures.

DOH guidance says if a student or staff member develops symptoms of COVID-19 while at the facility, please isolate the person until they can leave the facility. If a student or staff member tests positive, you should close the facility and thoroughly clean before re-opening. Work with local public health to identify the close contacts who will need to quarantine. All members of the infected child’s or adult’s cohort would be considered close contacts.

Here is some helpful guidance from the King County website about what to do if you, a staff member, or a child has COVID-19-like symptoms. In addition, please visit the DOH or CDC websites for continually updating information.

For additional recommendations, please visit the DOH website.

The DOH recommendations are guidelines. We understand this can be confusing because current licensing recommendations support using bleach to disinfect. Both the CDC and the WHO recommend using bleach as a disinfectant and sanitizer that is effective for killing Covid-19. You can find guidance on this webpage from the Michigan State University talking about how to use bleach properly.

If an early learning setting is currently using bleach and they are following the recommendations for appropriate concentrations for sanitation and disinfection, it will help keep children and staff safe. If a program is using another cleaning product according to the manufacturer’s instructions, they would also be doing their part to help keep children and staff safe from COVID-19.

ECEAP Payments

Yes, you will through June 30, 2020 as long as you provide modified services to children and families. DCYF ECEAP is engaged in longer-term planning with DCYF Leadership to determine next steps and further payment options after June if needed. Our office is committed to working with contractors to find reasonable solutions during this time.

If the ECEAP classrooms are serving the pre-determined priority populations mentioned above, yes. This is allowable at this time. We are continuing to seek guidance from DCYF leadership around longer-term parameters for this scenario.

Yes, at least through April 30, 2020 at this point in time. DCYF ECEAP is engaged in longer-term planning with DCYF Leadership to determine next steps and further payment options after April if needed. Our office is committed to working with contractors to find reasonable solutions during this time.

We will be making payments at the contractor level. However, in order to continue to receive payments, ECEAP Contractors need to ensure either continuing classroom services or modified services are being provided and report details of activities to DCYF. If ECEAP sites are providing emergency care for priority populations, ECEAP Contractors need to balance that with continuing modified services to ECEAP enrolled children who are not in emergency care.

Provider Supports

Please contact the Provider Line either through email at providerhelp@dcyf.wa.gov or phone 1-800-394-4571.

We are exploring financial supports and funds for child care providers in consultation with the Governor’s Office. We will raise the question.

If you are currently licensed and would like to extend capacity of your services, or start serving additional age groups, or include additional working hours to your services please contact your licensing office. DCYF is implementing an emergency waiver process to speed up necessary licensing activities. There are no fees for changing your license.

If you are currently providing exempt child care services, e.g. part day services, drop-in services, etc. and would like to start providing services for more than 4 hours per day and/or infant/toddler services – please contact your licensing office. We are implementing an emergency waiver process to speed up necessary licensing activities.

Please see the regional child care licensing offices contact information.

COVID Supports/Resources for Families

DCYF is creating a FAQ for families to share information and updates.  We are also working closely with the Child Care Aware family center, who are talking with families daily, to understand community needs. DCYF asks contractors to continue to share information provided by DCYF and other state agencies with families.

For the most up-to-date and accurate information, families can visit the Washington State Department of Health coronavirus webpage and the CDC’s coronavirus website. If you have specific questions that cannot be answered by these resources, call DOH’s public call center at 1-800-525-0127.

The Washington State Department of Health has Fact Sheets and Education Materials available in multiple languages that can be useful in getting information out to families:

Bringing children to work during this emergency is OK for as long as its meeting each program/service policies and procedures, and staff’s children are healthy.

Early Achievers Specific Related Questions

At this time, all data collection continues to be on hold. The DCYF Early Achievers team will be sending a message to the field soon regarding what you can expect moving forward. The goal is to support providers and not create an additional burden during this unprecedented time.

Early Achievers data collection visits will stop beginning March 17, 2020. Data collection is paused because many early learning programs are not operating as usual due to COVID-19. Programs that had an on-site evaluation in data collection window two (January 16-March 15) will have their ratings published on April 15, 2020 per the data collection schedule.

Once programming returns to typical operation, the data collection team will work with early learning programs to ensure a smooth rescheduling process.

DCYF appreciates the important service providers offer to families in Washington during this difficult time.  During this time, rather than conducting data collection we are deploying data collectors to the field to support providers who may need additional staff in order to support families who must continue working during the outbreak.

As long as your program remains in the queue for data collection, your timeline will not be affected. When data collection resumes, sites will receive information from their Community Liaison about updates to the data collection schedule.

Providers still have the ability to request their on-site evaluation in order to meet timeline requirements. As long as your program remains in the queue for data collection, your timeline will not be affected. Once programming returns to normal, your community liaison will work with you to ensure the scheduling process is smooth.

Providers can continue to request on-site evaluation and will be placed in the queue.  We will continue to update our plans for Early Achievers as this situation unfolds. Please refer to our website https://www.dcyf.wa.gov/coronavirus-covid-19 for updates or contact us at dcyf.covid-19@dcyf.wa.gov with any questions.