Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

 
 

March 30, 2020

PHELC Update

 

As the Coronavirus continues to affect our country, the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando County, Inc. (PHELC) is providing an update to the communities that we serve.

 

As we continue to live and work through this pandemic, there are many unknowns. I want to share with you that we have some amazing providers electing to stay open to help families that need to work. These heroes need to be heralded for their bravery and commitment to help people.  

Some providers have been criticized publicly for staying open during this pandemic. More than half of the parents requiring childcare would be considered first responders, or front line workforce, like early childcare providers.

We are also working with local businesses and community groups in an effort to assist providers that have elected to stay open with obtaining cleaning and infant/toddler supplies which have been drastically depleted in an effort to follow all of the CDC recommendations.  We have received a donation that will allow us to purchase some items for providers such as sanitizers and paper products. We’re hoping to help as many providers as possible during this time. If you can help, please email us at coalition@phelc.org

The majority of Coalition staff are working remotely in an effort to practice social distancing as recommended by the CDC.  However, if you need to contact your provider specialist, all Coalition staff emails are on our website – www.phelc.org – under the About Us tab.

Staff are routinely in contact with our providers including making daily calls to providers for emotional and programmatic support. They also share updates and answer any questions.  The Coalition is dedicated to having a positive attitude and is committed to helping our providers and families during this challenging time.

Stay strong, stay healthy, take care of yourself and your loved ones, and remain hopeful.  Thank you for your service!

 

Steve Knobl, Ph.D.

Executive Director

 

March 18, 2020 
5:00 P.M. Update
 
Below you will find an Important Message from the Office of Early Learning and the Department of Education:
 
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update
 
IMPORTANT UPDATE RELATED TO PROGRAM OPERATIONS, CLOSURES AND ELIGIBILITY
 
Dear Providers:
 
Currently, we are experiencing a very unprecedented time in the early learning industry. A time of uncertainty, a time of doubt and a time of fear. Through the news, many of us have heard about the increased need for first responders, including law enforcement, fire, EMS and medical staff. It is my firm belief that childcare directors, owners, teachers and support staff are also part of the first responder family. I assure you that we here at the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties are committed to walking beside you during this time. 
 
Along with the other coalitions across the state, we are working with the Office of Early Learning to help discover the details being discussed. It appears the consensus statewide is that there are concerns with childcare centers remaining open and the possible spreading of the virus; however, there is also a tremendous need in keeping our community functioning by having quality childcare available to parents who must continue to work. Once again, the ELC of Pasco and Hernando Counties is not an authority who will make a decision on whether or not a center should shut down. If you choose to shut down your site, please upload a closure letter to the attendance folder in the Provider Services Portal and also please notify your Provider Specialist via email.
 
In all of the uncertainty around the Coronavirus Pandemic/COVID-19, I am certain of one thing: that our Pasco and Hernando workforces critically depend on you and your staff! ·        
 
We hope that all SR and VPK providers decide to remain open. Please do your best to adhere with CDC recommendations to keep classroom sizes at 10 or less children whenever possible.
 
Shan Goff, the Executive Director of the Office of Early Learning and Dr. Eric Hall, the Chancellor for Innovation at the Department of Education, announced major provisions and guidance to assist School Readiness and VPK programs and families during this critical time. While they did not provide any other details than what is listed below, we wanted to make sure you were aware of this new information. We continue to await additional details and will share them with you as they are provided to us.
 
  • Programs can decide whether to stay open or close, either way they WILL BE REIMBURSED
  • All SR and VPK providers who decide to remain open should adhere with CDC recommendations to keep classroom size down to 10 or less children
  • OEL will stress following strict guidelines on cleanliness and sanitation protocols for programs who stay open (CDC guidelines for schools/childcare centers)
  • OEL is working on provisions to loosen the rules surrounding eligibility, re-determination (and documentation), possibly waiving parent fees, parent balances, allowable absences, etc. 
  • There is a plan to suspend School Readiness and VPK Assessments
 
The bottom line from what we heard was that Governor DeSantis did not want providers to worry about being paid or parents concerned about losing their eligibility. 
 
In a press release dated Tuesday, March 17th the Commissioner of Education stated that all School Readiness and Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Programs will receive their full allocation of funding through June 30, 2020 as though there was no disruption in education. The purpose of this continued funding is to ensure that childcare providers will be able to financially support their day to day operations including paying teachers and childcare staff regardless of the decision to remain open during this health crisis, or not. The exact details of how we go about doing this and what exactly will qualify is still being determined. I know for certain if you stay open you will be paid for everyone, present or not, so keep good records.  
 
Please continue to look out for additional important and updated information from the ELC. The ELC of Pasco and Hernando Counties will continue to do whatever we can to support our early learning providers during this time. 
  
We want to ensure you, your staff and the families you serve are properly informed.  Therefore, we've established a web page on our website (www.phelc.org), dedicated to providing information regarding COVID-19. You will also find additional information from the CDC here:
 
 
Please check the ELC's web page at least daily, as we post updated information. We also encourage you to follow us on Facebook for timely updates as well.
 
The next few weeks will be very trying times for all of us and our workforce community will be counting on you to do what you do best, care for children! I trust and feel confident that you will continue to safely serve during this time.  
 
Stay safe and please feel free to contact us at coalition@phelc.org if we can be of any assistance.
 
Steve Knobl, Ph.D.
Executive Director
 
REMEMBER - Be Safe - Wash Your Hands!
 
Steve Knobl, Ph.D., Executive Director
Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties, Inc.
15506 County Line Road
Spring Hill, Florida 34610
 
Phone: 727-233-8291
Fax: 727-857-0151
 
 

Important Message from the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties, Inc.

 
 
 

March 16, 2020 

4:00 P.M. Update

 

Important Message from the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties, Inc.:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

 

Dear Child Care Provider,

As we continue to monitor the progress of COVID-19, it becomes more critical that we continue to communicate with you and assure you have the answers you need protecting the health and well-being of your children, families, and staff.  It will be the intent of the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties (ELC) to send status reports via email, through social media and posting information on our website (www.phelc.org) as new information becomes relevant to COVID-19. Please keep an eye out for these communications and feel free to reach out to us if you have additional questions.

At this point, you should have received the necessary correspondence from the ELC by the various health organizations providing guidance and best practices to keep the transmission of the virus to a minimum.  If you need that information again, to include signage and posters, please let us know.

There are many questions arising regarding child care center closures.  Last week’s email to providers very clearly stated the rules involved regarding closures.  The ELC is not an authority to make the decisions regarding closures.  The ELC does, however, have to follow the rules pertaining to provider payments.  In general, unless a provider is closed down by an authority (ie, Department of Health, Center for Disease Control etc…) the rules that were sent to you last week continue to apply.  At this point, even though the State of Florida has closed public schools, we have received no direction from any authority demanding closure to any child care centers. 

Should you have any questions regarding your licensing requirements or any modifications to the work you do in your center as you continue to function, please reach out to DCF for direction. Once again, our Coalition is not an authority to the functioning of your program and at this time, no changes have been mandated regarding payment process changes.  Should you decide to close for any reason, the ELC will require notification and documentation from you as it has in the past and will be obligated to pay or not pay you based on the rules of OEL.

Several providers have questioned the ability to change school-aged children from part-time status to full-time status now that schools have closed.  The Provider Services Portal does allow you the ability to make that status change in the system.  You will be required to upload the appropriate documentation into the attendance folder for each child to show they attend full-time.  Please contact your reimbursement specialist if you have any technical questions regarding making those status changes.

Finally, in an attempt to follow the lead of national, state and local officials to help minimize the spread of COVID-19, our Coalition will be conducting all business with providers and clients electronically and via telephone until further notice.  The Coalition has not been directed by any authority to close for any reason.  We do not intend for there to be any interruptions in service to our partnering providers or clients.  We are committed to providing great service and will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available to us. 

Please feel free to contact us if we can be of assistance.

 

Steve Knobl, Ph.D.

Executive Director

 

Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties, Inc.

15506 County Line Rd.

Spring Hill,  FL  34610

Phone: 727-233-8291

s.knobl@phelc.org