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Emergency Child Care Initiative

As part of the District of Columbia Government’s response to coronavirus (COVID-19), the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is partnering with licensed child care providers to offer emergency care for the children of DC’s health care workers and essential government employees and contractors.

While the current public health emergency means children should stay at home as much as possible, we recognize that may not be an option for essential workers who continue to report to work. As a result, we have made emergency child care available through the Emergency Child Care Initiative for essential government and health care workers, including essential support staff employed in the District.

Beginning July 2, slots at emergency sites will be dedicated to serving pre-K and school-age children, ages 4 to 12. The District will support families with infants and toddlers in transitioning to other care options as the District begins to re-open and child care for infants and toddlers becomes increasingly available.

Emergency child care is currently being offered from 6 am to 8 pm, Monday through Friday, at four sites. The sites follow recent federal and District of Columbia Government health and safety guidance related to group size limits, cleaning protocols, and screenings before children and staff enter a facility.

The emergency child care partnerships include two licensed providers serving children age 4 to 12: Alphabest Education and Champions, who have the capacity to serve approximately 175 children at these four sites.

Getting Started

Individuals working in health care and essential government employees or contractors in federal and District of Columbia Government who are in search of child care in DC are asked to complete a short interest form by visiting

Once the form is submitted, DC Child Care Connections will reach out to discuss child care options and connect you with emergency providers who have available seats. If none of the emergency sites meet a family’s needs, DC Child Care Connections will refer the family to other non-emergency child care sites that have remained open.

You can also reach out directly to DC Child Care Connections at (202) 829-2500, and they will walk you through the form and offer immediate assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is emergency child care no longer available for infants and toddlers?

The Emergency Child Care Initiative was set up in March at a time when most child care providers had temporarily closed due to the public health crisis. Because many facilities are now reopening and serving infants and toddlers, the Emergency Child Care Initiative is no longer needed to fill this gap in care. Families in need of child care for infants and toddlers can reach out to DC Child Care Connections at (202) 829-2500 for a referral to an open facility that best meets their needs.

Who is eligible for the emergency child care effort?

Emergency child care is available for first responders and other essential government and health care workers who are employed in the District of Columbia. In addition, individuals who are supporting health care providers (e.g., operations and support staff) may access child care if they are currently reporting to work to support essential functions. This includes residents of Maryland and Virginia who work in the District of Columbia.

Children ages 4 to 12 years without serious medical conditions such as severe asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, immunocompromise, and primary immunodeficiency are eligible to participate.

Per the Mayor's Order on March 24, "health care" includes hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other health care facilities, health care suppliers, home health care and assisted living services, mental health providers, medical marijuana dispensaries, calibrators and operators of medical equipment, or any related and/or ancillary health care services as defined by CISA; and also includes veterinary care and all health care services provided to animals.

“Essential Government Functions” include first responders, including police, firefighting, and emergency medical services, emergency management, 911/311 call center; law enforcement functions; services needed to ensure the continuing operation of government agencies and provide for the health, safety, and welfare of the public performed by the District of Columbia or federal government or their contractors, the District of Columbia Courts, and inter-governmental commissions and entities performing such functions, including judicial and elections functions.

What is the cost of emergency child care?

Families who currently hold a DC child care voucher will continue to have their child care costs covered and will not be charged a co-pay. Given the urgent need for care, OSSE is helping to alleviate part of the cost of care for families who do not typically qualify for child care assistance. Out-of-pocket costs for these families vary depending on the provider and age of the child.

Contact DC Child Care Connections at (202) 829-2500 (translation services provided) or [email protected] for more information.

What about emergency child care for essential workers who are not health care or government workers?

We have essential workers across many sectors of our economy. We recognize that many of them need child care during this critical time, and we are working to ensure that they have options to meet their needs.

DC’s Child Care Resource & Referral can help connect families with licensed child care providers who have remained open during the public health emergency. Please call (202) 829-2500 or email [email protected] to find out more.

Are there options available for parents and caregivers who are not considered “essential” workers?

The coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented public health emergency. Due to the risk of gathering in groups and further spreading the virus, Mayor Bowser has issued a stay-home order that means individuals should only leave their home if absolutely necessary. Families who can keep their children at home are encouraged to do so at this time.

However, we understand that some parents and caretakers may still need to attend work. Families in need of child care can reach out to DC’s Child Care Resource & Referral at (202) 829-2500 or [email protected] for more information.

I’m a licensed child care provider and want to participate in the emergency child care effort. What’s my next step?

Thank you for your willingness to provide emergency child care for some of our most critical workers. If you’re a child care provider licensed in the District of Columbia and interested in learning more about the emergency child care effort, please click here.

Additional questions?

If you have questions, please contact the DC Child Care Connections hotline at (202) 829-2500 or email [email protected]