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Child care regulations, learning pods and safety

With the current exceptions to the norm regarding school attendance and gatherings, many parents are having to make alternate arrangements for their children who would normally be attending school daily through the week. This necessity has led to some changes in the regulations for those who provide child care.

Under regular circumstances, Pennsylvania laws set out strict regulations and oversight for child care providers.

55 Pa. Code chapters 3270 and 3290

Child care providers must obtain a variety of licenses and certificates indicating that the facility or home is in compliance with safety measures, among other state requirements. Workers must also meet criteria such as age, education and training. The Department of Human Services of the Commonwealth issues certificates of compliance that permit child care facilities to operate for a specific period of time as long as they continue to meet Department regulations.

Educational programs for school-age children do not always have to meet these requirements if they fit into other criteria, such as:

  • Operating under the limit for the number of hours each week
  • Offering a single-purpose program such as art or another specific learning activity
  • Providing educational assistance through the school district
  • Providing tutoring, educational testing or remedial assistance, if the program has a license from the Pennsylvania Department of Education

Learning pod regulations

According to The Times Herald, recent changes to the statutes’ regulations attempt to facilitate child care during virtual school times for working parents without compromising child safety. Parents may supervise students in groups of as many as 12 of the same age if they meet certain criteria; if there are six or fewer students, the criteria are recommendations rather than requirements.

Criteria include background checks on all adults supervising groups and working fire alarms at all locations, as well as emergency response and health and safety plans. Group locations may be at churches, recreational facilities or homes, and some licensing restrictions may not apply. The Department of Human Services supplies a required form regarding the creation of a learning pod.