Westchester's first responders and essential workers shouldn't be over-burdened by child care costs as they work to serve and protect others during the COVID-19 emergency. With grants from the Westchester Community Foundation's COVID-19 Response Fund and RXR, the Council is happy to announce a new scholarship program to help immediately.
Who is eligible:
If you live in Westchester County, are a first responder/essential staff working outside the home, and your gross household income is below 85% of NYS State Median Income, you should apply. [Your income might also make you eligible for a child care subsidy through the Westchester Department of Social Services (DSS)]. If you are not found to be eligible for the Subsidy Program, you may be considered for this Scholarship Fund on a case-by-case basis, for example, if you are employed less than 20 hours/week.
Congress is about to approve additional funding for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) - don't miss out!
Shira Leibowitz, Ph.D., CEO of Discovery Village, a licensed child care center in Tarrytown, has been trained through the Westchester County Office of Economic Development and Volunteer New York to assist you in applying for these programs. She is particularly determined to provide this help to child care businesses. You can reach Shira to set up an appointment via this link Click Here!
Good luck to all! And a very special thanks to Shira for sharing her expertise so generously!
From the NYS Office of Children & Family Services
In December 2019, a new respiratory disease called the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was detected. COVID-19 is caused by a virus (SARS-CoV-2) that is part of a large family of viruses called coronaviruses. Recently, community-wide transmission of COVID-19 has occurred in the United States, including New York where the number of both confirmed and suspected cases is increasing. To reduce the community-wide transmission of COVID-19, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has taken aggressive action through Executive Order 202, as amended, to combat the spread of this infectious disease, reducing the density of people in areas of common congregation by closing the in-person operations of non-essential businesses and prohibiting all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason.
Executive Order 202.17, issued on April 15, 2020, provides the following directive:
Effective at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 17, 2020 any individual who is over age two and able to medically tolerate a face-covering shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance.
Executive Order 202.18, issued on April 16, 2020, provides the following directive:
Any person utilizing public or private transportation carriers or other for-hire vehicles, who is over age two and able to medically tolerate a face covering, shall wear a mask or face covering over the nose and mouth during any such trip; any person who is operating such public or private transport, shall likewise wear a face covering or mask which covers the nose and mouth while there are any passengers in such vehicle. This directive shall take effect in the same manner as Executive Order 202.17, at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 17, 2020.
Individuals must procure, fashion, or otherwise obtain face coverings and wear such coverings when they are in a public place and are:
• within six feet of distance from other individuals; or
• in a situation or setting where they are unable to maintain six feet of distance from other individuals; or
• in a public or private transportation carrier or for-hire vehicle.
Children do not need to wear face coverings when they are in a child care program. In addition, the outdoor space that belongs exclusively to the child care program is not considered a public place.
Face coverings include, but are not limited to, cloth (e.g. homemade sewn, quick cut, bandana), surgical masks, N-95 respirators, and face shields. Please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” website for information on cloth face covers and other types of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as instructions on use, cleaning, and disposal. Instructions for wearing and making cloth face coverings can be found on the OCFS website at: https://ocfs.ny.gov/main/news/2020/DOH-COVID-2020Apr08-Cloth-Masks.pdf.
Please note that the most protective PPE (e.g. N-95 respirators) remains a critical need for health care workers and first responders and, therefore, should be prioritized for those settings.
Individuals are required to wear a face covering in the above mentioned situations and settings, provided that they are older than two (2) years of age and able to medically tolerate a covering. If a face covering would inhibit or otherwise impair an individual’s health or if an individual is not older than two (2) years of age, an individual is not required to wear or use such a covering. Further, essential business operators and enforcement authorities are prohibited from requesting or requiring medical or other documentation from an individual who declines to wear a face covering due to a medical or other health condition that prevents such usage.
Nothing in Executive Order 202.17 or 202.18 shall remove the obligation of essential businesses, as well as state and local government agencies and authorities, to procure, fashion, or otherwise obtain face coverings and provide such coverings to employees who directly interact with the public during the course of their work at no-cost to the employee, pursuant to Executive Order 202.16.
Public and private transport operators required to wear a face covering while transporting passengers should consult the New York State Department of Health’s “Interim Guidance on Executive Order 202.16 Requiring Face Coverings for Public and Private Employees Interacting with the Public During the COVID-19 Outbreak,” issued on April 14, 2020, for further information.
New York State Department of Health Coronavirus (COVID-19) Website
United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus (COVID-19) Website
Westchester DSS sought and received approval for a number of key waivers to its Child and Family Services Plan that will be a tremendous help to both programs/providers and families:
Payment for Absences:
Can pay for all child absences due to COVID-19 for 30 days beginning March 7, 2020. The waiver applies to both contracted and non-contracted programs including Day Care Centers, Group Family Day Care, Family Day Care, Legally-Exempt Group Programs and School Age Child Care. Programs must be open for a child to be absent. Legally-exempt family child care and in-home child care providers are not eligible to receive these payments for absences.
Can pay for all program closure days due to COVID-19 for 30 days beginning March 7, 2020. The waiver applies to both contract and non-contracted programs as listed above. Programs must notify their licensing agency (OCFS or CCCW) of their closure. Legally-exempt family child care and in-home child care providers are not eligible to receive these payments for closures.
Will extend all Child Care Subsidy eligibility determinations that are coming due for recertification for at least the next 30 days. All cases due to be recertified in March or April 2020 will be extended until May 2020.
Expanded Eligibility Standards:
Can now serve families with incomes up to 85% of the New York State Median Income in the Child Care Subsidy Program.
Will suspend all family share fees for families receiving child care assistance, beginning March 7, 2020 and through at least the next 30 days. This waiver applies to both contracted and non-contracted provider programs. If a program or provider has collected fees from families for this period, payments should be refunded to families or their accounts should be credited accordingly.
Child care services can be provided to families that need such services for a child to be protected because a parent is unavailable to care for the child/ren as a result of being quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19.
We thank DSS Commissioner Kevin McGuire, First Deputy John Befus, the Subsidy Program team, and the office of County Executive George Latimer for sending this critical assistance to the Westchester child care community and the children and working parents that they serve!