The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) are providing parents and caregivers with guidance regarding joining a learning pod this school year. Learning pods are being formed by families of school-age children in homes of parents and other adults to facilitate the supervision of the children who are learning remotely during the school day.
The guidance includes information about Gov. Jared Polis’ executive order that provides temporary flexibility to care for school-age children using learning pods. This comes as families are navigating the COVID-19 crisis and balancing work, child care, and school for their children.
CDHS and CDE released the guidance, called the Resource Guide for Individuals Hosting and Families Participating in Instructional Learning Pods, to help families navigate different learning environments for their children. This includes considerations for the health and safety of the care and learning environment for children, training and qualifications, background checks, and important educational aspects of participating in a learning pod. The family guide will help parents understand how state education policies relate to learning pods so they can form pods that meet their family’s needs.
“The education of Colorado’s children is critical during this unprecedented time,” said Melissa Colsman, CDE’s associate commissioner of student learning. “We recognize the challenges families are facing as their students participate in remote learning. Parents who choose to use learning pods should find the parent guide a useful resource when making important decisions for their children.”
Colorado’s Child Care Licensing Act requires specific rules to be followed for the safety and well-being of children, and allows certain child care operations to be exempt from licensing requirements, including family child care homes serving four or fewer children. The governor has provided temporary flexibility under Executive Order D 2020 188 to allow learning pods to be exempt from licensing if they provide care for:
- Five or fewer school-age children aged 6 to 9; OR
- Eight or fewer school-age children aged 10 or older.
In both cases, the learning pods cannot provide 24-hour care.
More information about licensing exemptions can be found here.
“Licensed child care remains the best, safest option for children,” said Mary Anne Snyder, director of CDHS’s Office of Early Childhood. “Licensed child care is inspected and rated by the state, and licensed programs must support children’s health and safety, ensure staff are well-trained and effective, ensure individuals complete comprehensive background checks, and provide a supportive learning environment.”
The resources below are available for families searching for licensed child care:
- Colorado Shines online search
- Call (toll-free) 1-877-338-CARE (2273)
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Text “child care referrals” to 898-211
- Complete the child care online intake form
- Chat with a navigator
More information on child care in local areas can also be accessed through local Early Childhood Councils.