Family Resources

Finding Care for your Child during the COVID-19 Emergency

On March 13, Governor Jay Inslee ordered all schools in Washington state to close between March 17 and April 27. This announcement followed local and state emergency orders limiting large gatherings and mandating strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19. We know these closures will have significant impacts for many families in our community.

The Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) are working in lockstep to maintain and quickly and safely support expansion of child care to serve kids who otherwise would be in school. DCYF is working hard to create a coordinated response with state, county and city agencies, school districts and child care provider groups.

Here are some answers and resources to help you find available child care.

Use your natural supports and work with your employer for a flexible schedule, use of paid leave, extended leave, and the possibility of teleworking with children.

March 13, 2020

Washington State does not have any laws or rules that say at what age a child can be left home alone. In general, children under 10 should not be left on their own.

March 30, 2020

There are several types of child care options in your community, either licensed child care at a center or family home, before-and-after school care organizations or a network of friends, family and neighbor providers.

Child Care Aware (CCA) of Washington is an independent organization that provides information and support for families seeking child care. To find licensed child care in your community, contact the Child Care Aware of Washington Family Center. The family center will create a custom search based on family needs including hours, location, ages, etc. During Washington’s state of emergency, CCA is keeping an updated list of local community options for care as well. You can reach the CCA Family Center at 1-800-446-1114. The online Child Care Referral Search is available here.

Another option is to utilize the Family, Friends & Neighbor (FFN) program. For more information, visit our FFN webpage or call 1-866-482-4325.

March 23, 2020

Identify what is important to you and your family when choosing an early learning provider. Here are some things to consider:

  • Do the child care’s hours work for my schedule?
  • What is the cost?
  • Is the environment safe and healthy?
  • What will my child experience during the day?
  • How does the provider engage with families?

March 23, 2020

When finding care for your child, you may be seeking support from friends, relatives or someone else you feel comfortable with and trust. Remember to ask if they are prepared to administer CPR and provide first aid in the event of an emergency. Also make sure they know the importance of safe sleep for infants – ensuring they are placed on their back when sleeping.

Additionally, CPR and First Aid trainings are available online through the American Red Cross.

March 23, 2020

Any person who exhibits flu-like symptoms (primarily fever, cough and shortness of breath) should not be at work or child care. Sick individuals should stay home and away from others and contact their health care provider.

More information regarding children and COVID-19:

March 23, 2020

The purpose of school closures is to maximize “social distancing.” Social distancing actions are taken to restrict when and where people can gather to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19 or other infectious diseases in communities. The school closures will be most effective in slowing the spread of the virus if the overwhelming majority of children stay at home or in very small group settings throughout the closure period. And, while closing schools statewide helps achieve this goal, it also increases the need for child care for some families.

There are two main reasons child care providers are not included in the closure requirement. First, child care settings are often much smaller in numbers than in K-12 settings and can more easily follow the “groups of ten people or fewer” guidance. Second, child care is a critical need for our first responders and essential personnel (nurses, doctors, law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, social workers, etc.) so they can continue to work to respond to the pandemic.

March 23, 2020

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has established a website and 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.

March 23, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) strongly encourages families to keep their children at home if they can safely do so. DOH recommends this to slow the spread of COVID-19, protect child care providers’ health and allow child care providers to serve children of essential personnel like health care workers who can’t support the COVID-19 response effort without child care.

Governor Inslee's ‘Stay home, Stay healthy’ order

March 27, 2020

DCYF encourages families to follow the Department of Health guidance, which strongly encourages families to keep their children at home if they can safely do so.

March 27, 2020

The Department of Health strongly encourages families to keep their children at home if they can safely do so. Children can be taken to child care when parents are participating in essential activities as outlined in the Governor’s directive. However, state laws do not govern the relationship between child care programs and parents who pay privately. Tuition expectations and policies may be in the child care provider’s parent handbook, so check there for guidance.

March 27, 2020

State laws do not govern the relationship between child care programs and parents who pay privately. DCYF does not have authority over payments in child care for private pay families. Tuition expectations and policies may be in the child care provider’s parent handbook.

March 27, 2020

State laws do not govern the relationship between child care programs and parents who pay privately. DCYF does not have authority over payments in child care for private pay families. Tuition expectations and policies may be in the child care provider’s parent handbook, so check there for guidance.

March 27, 2020

Health care workers with income under 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG) may be eligible for assistance under the current Working Connections Child Care program.

At this time, there is no state-level financial assistance for families outside of Working Connections Child Care. We encourage you to connect with your local school district which may be offering emergency child care. DCYF continues to explore options to provide financial assistance for essential workers who have a household income above 200% FPG.

March 27, 2020

Governor Inslee has designated child care and licensed pre-K as an essential function for essential workers and uniquely vulnerable children. While parents are encouraged to stay home with their children if they're able to do so, we understand that child care services for our frontline health care workers, first responders and other essential workers is necessary during this pandemic.

You can find the full list of essential workers here. DCYF encourages child care professionals to follow DOH child care guidance on group size and social distancing.

March 27, 2020

Washington State is waiving family copayments for the months of April, May and June. DCYF will pay the family’s co-payment requirement through the normal invoice process. For example, the family’s April copay will be included in the payment made for April services.

March 27, 2020

A family will not lose their authorization if they did not utilize care during March or April. The retention of the child care slot is determined by the provider. We encourage you to communicate with your provider about your intentions to use care in the short and long term.

March 27, 2020

Families qualifying for state-subsidized Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) automatically receive 12 months of eligibility for care, even if their income or work situation changes. If you are nearing the end of your 12 months of care, please contact the Child Care Subsidy Contact Center at 1-844-626-8687 to discuss the next steps.

March 27, 2020

DOH provides recommendations and resources for parents and caregivers. Below are additional informational resources for children, youth and families who are impacted by school and child care closures.

March 27, 2020

DCYF is working to provide flexibility to required activities because of the COVID-19 emergency. We are reviewing approved activity related denials that occurred in March and will reconsider household eligibility. Reapproved families will be notified by phone and in writing.

If a family did not apply for reauthorization they will need to contact DCYF to restart the process.

Unemployment Compensation is countable income for Child Care Subsidy. Income is used to determine income eligibility and copay amount when families apply or reapply. Families that have a decrease in income during their certification period may have their copayment reconsidered by reporting this change online at washingtonconnection.org or by calling 1-844-626-8687.