State Issues Updated Guidance for Child Care Programs and Providers


On July 17, 2020, the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”), the California Department of Social Services (“CDSS”), and Cal/OSHA released an updated statewide COVID-19 guidance for child care programs and providers (“Child Care Guidance”).  The Child Care Guidance is separate from the School Guidance and CDPH School Reopening Framework, which apply to all public and private K-12 schools, as reported in our Alerts from July 19, 2020 and July 20, 2020.  

Therefore, the recent statewide orders restricting the reopening of K-12 schools located in counties on the State’s Monitoring List do not apply to existing, licensed child care programs and providers that are currently operating on K-12 school district campuses. Child care programs are licensed by the CDSS division of Community Care Licensing.  The Governor’s call to provide “distance learning” only for schools located in counties on the States’ Monitoring List has created a conundrum for school employees requiring child care during normal school hours for their own school aged children due to the closure of schools and ban on in-person instruction.  Whether new child care programs may be opened on K-12 school district campuses, either through the licensing process or through a waiver (see CDSS Provider Information Notice, PIN 20-04-CCP), or whether licensed child care programs operating on K-12 school district campuses may expand existing licensed operations, remains undetermined.  We anticipate receiving further guidance from CDSS regarding the ability to expand child care on K-12 school district campuses in order to address the child care needs of essential workers, including teachers and other school employees.

The CDPH, CDSS, and Cal/OSHA previously released guidance for child care programs and providers on June 5, 2020.  Most of the June 5, 2020 guidance remains the same, except as noted below.  In addition to the Child Care Guidance, child care providers must follow the guidance in PIN 20-15-CCP issued by CDSS on July 15, 2020.  Child care providers should also consider orders of local county public health officers, which may be more restrictive and may have requirements in addition to those issued by the CDPH or CDSS.

Updates to Child Care Guidance

The Child Care Guidance was updated from its June 5, 2020 version to include the following information:

Essential Protective Equipment and Supplies

  • Face coverings: Children aged 2 years and older should wear face coverings, especially when indoors or when a six-foot physical distance from others cannot be maintained. Face coverings are strongly encouraged for young children between two years old and second grade, if they can be worn properly.  A face shield is an acceptable alternative for young children between two years old and second grade. 
  • Hand sanitizer: The updated Child Care Guidance warns not to use any products that contain methanol.
  • Healthy Schools Act Training: Anyone using disinfectants at child care centers must complete annual California Department of Pesticide Regulation-approved training.


  • Training: All staff and families should be trained on personal hygiene and proper use, removal, and washing of face coverings.
  • Workplace Outbreaks: Child care programs should implement necessary processes and protocols when a workplace has an outbreak, in accordance with CDPH guidelines, Responding to COVID-19 in the Workplace. Those guidelines provide recommendations for identifying cases and contact tracing to help prevent further spread in the workplace; notifying the local health department for assistance; and communicating with employees and other exposed individuals.  When there is a workplace outbreak, child care programs should investigate the COVID-19 illness and determine if any work-related factors could have contributed to the risk of infection and update protocols as needed to prevent further cases. 


Cleaning guidelines were updated with information regarding asthma related to disinfecting.  Employees should also be provided with training on the chemical hazards associated with cleaning.

Coronavirus Symptoms

The updated Child Care Guidance added fatigue, congestion, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea to the list of COVID-19 symptoms.

Updates to Staff-Child Ratio and Group Size Requirements

The Child Care Guidance regarding group size and staffing remains the same, and provides that children should remain in groups that are as small as possible.  However, child care providers must also follow CDSS’s PIN 20-15-CCP, which updates previously waived staff-child ratio and group size requirements. 

Previous guidance issued by CDSS in PIN 20-06-CCP allowed child care centers to follow modified staff-child ratio and group sizes by temporarily waiving existing law.  Under the temporary waiver, the staff-child ratios varied by age level and all group sizes were limited to 10 children.  PIN 20-15-CCP provides that, effective immediately, all state-wide waivers modifying staff-child ratio and group size requirements are terminated, which in effect, reverts requirements back to those established in Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations, sections 101216.3, 101216.4, 101416.5, 101516.5, 101616.5 and 102416.5.[1]  These regulations require the following staff-child ratios:

Age of Children

Staff-Child Ratio

Infant program (0-2 years)

1 teacher: 4 infants

Toddler program (18-36 months)

1 teacher: 6 toddlers

(Total group size cannot exceed 12 toddlers.)

2-6 years

1 teacher:12 children

1 teacher and 1 teacher aide: 15 children

1 teacher and 1 teacher aide (with requisite educational background) : 18 children

6-14 years

1 teacher: 14 children

1 teacher and 1 teacher aide: 28 children

Mixed age groups

Staffing requirements are based on the age of the youngest child in the group

Notably, child care providers that would like to operate with alternative ratios may submit waiver requests to their CDSS Regional Office, which will evaluate waivers on a case-by-case basis.


Although K-12 school districts are subject to statewide orders limiting in-person instruction for the 2020-2021 school year, existing licensed child care programs and providers that are already authorized to operate during normal school hours may remain open and are subject to different requirements.  We encourage all child care providers to review the updated Child Care Guidance and PIN 20-15-CCP to ensure compliance with any new requirements.  Please feel free to contact the authors or your usual AALRR attorney with any questions regarding this Alert.

[1] Child development programs funded by the California Department of Education and operating under Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations are subject to different staffing ratios, as set forth in Title 5.


[1] Child development programs funded by the California Department of Education and operating under Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations are subject to different staffing ratios, as set forth in Title 5.

This AALRR publication is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in reaching a conclusion in a particular area of law. Applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. Receipt of this or any other AALRR publication does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Firm is not responsible for inadvertent errors that may occur in the publishing process.

© 2020 Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo



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