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State addresses child care needs amid COVID-19 pandemic

Gov. Mike Parson, left, and Department of Health and Senior Services director Randall Williams discuss the state's response to COVID-19 on Tuesday, March 3, 2020.
ABC 17 News
Gov. Mike Parson, left, and Department of Health and Senior Services director Randall Williams discuss the state's response to COVID-19 on Tuesday, March 3, 2020.

The Missouri Department of Health and Social Services said it took steps Thursday to help child care providers and families during the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to a news release, DHSS' Section for Child Care Regulation is allowing licensed child care providers to utilize the rules for emergency school closings.

This means licensed providers can accommodate enrolled students who need care. It also means providers are allowed to go over the facility's license capacity by one-third. It's also allowing providers to extend their hours of care.

The state said it has also created a process to allow for the temporary care of preschool and school-age children. Short-term licenses for a 45-day period are available. Officials said the licenses are based on an inspection centered around health and safety indicators.

“We recognize that child care is an essential component of fighting COVID-19,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS. “Health care and other emergency medical personnel must have appropriate arrangements for their children to ensure they can provide the health care and other essential services needed by our communities.”

Meanwhile, the Missouri Department of Social Services is also taking steps to help families.

According to the news release, DSS is extending the Child Care Subsidy program benefits for 90 days. It is also letting the program pay for additional hours of care for a child's attendance due to school closure or the parent is required to work extra hours.

DSS is also extending Child Care Subsidy provider application renewals for 90 days.

These steps come after Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday afternoon that all public and charter schools in the state closed due to COVID-19.

Child care providers can find more information on the state health department's website.

Article Topic Follows: Missouri

Katie Greathouse

Katie Greathouse is the assistant news director for ABC 17 News.

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