Whitmer signs order expanding child-care services for essential workforce

The Detroit News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Wednesday to expand the capacity for child care services for health care workers, first responders and others during the coronavirus crisis.

The order provides temporary and limited relief from some regulatory restrictions regarding child care services and allows easier use of certain properties for child care services, state officials said in a statement.

It authorizes the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, or LARA, to issue expedited provisional licenses and allows employers such as hospitals to operate a disaster relief child care center for their employees, according to the release.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks to the media ahead of her Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020 response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address.

The order also allows public and non-public school facilities to house a disaster relief child care center focused on serving members of the essential workforce. That group can include health care workers, home health workers, direct care workers, emergency medical service providers, first responders, law enforcement personnel, sanitation workers, child care workers, personnel providing correctional services, postal workers, public health employees, key government employees and court personnel.

“Our health care workers and everyone who’s providing emergency medical services are doing incredible work to help us fight COVID-19,” Whitmer said. “That’s why I’m taking action to expand capacity for child care services for these critical front-line workers. By expanding our ability to care for our children, we are allowing them to continue working and protect public health and safety. Child care services are essential to our collective effort, particularly while schools are closed. To all child care providers who are able and willing to remain open in Michigan, I thank you for your service and sacrifice during this time.”  

All disaster relief child care centers authorized under the order must perform a health evaluation of all individuals who enter the facility each time they enter. They must deny entry to those individuals who do not meet the evaluation criteria and follow guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus, state officials said Wednesday.

Requirements for the centers must include:   

•Follow the safe sleep guidelines, including appropriate sleeping equipment for children under 12 months of age.

•Follow LARA’s guidelines for diapering, handwashing and sanitizing.  

•Provide porta-cribs, cots or mats for children older than 12 months to sleep or rest.  

•Have awareness of and communicate with parents and guardians regarding a child’s medicine; allergies, including food allergies; and other special needs.  

Intermediate school districts, the Early Childhood Investment Corp., and Michigan 2-1-1 are working to coordinate the efforts. Members of the essential workforce can go to www.helpmegrow-mi.org/essential. Information will be routed to someone in your community who can help you find care. 

Licensed child-care providers willing to remain open or re-open during the emergency can complete a short survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/childcare-covid-response.