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What are the safety guidelines for child care centers? Is there financial support for child care costs?

Last Updated: 02/08/2023

Vaccinations remain the best defense to prevent severe COVID-19 and to reduce interruptions in learning and care. Students and staff are encouraged to stay up to up date with vaccines.

If you need help finding child care, contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Agency.

Safety Recommendations

The New Jersey Department of Health recommends child care centers continue to follow these COVID-19 prevention measures:

  • Encourage students and staff to stay up to date with vaccination.
  • Encourage students and staff to stay home when sick.
  • Support mask use by students and staff who choose to mask at any time.
  • Prohibit in-person attendance for those who are symptomatic or have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and other contagious illnesses.
  • Implement control measures recommended by local health departments in response to clusters of cases (including increases in respiratory illness) and confirmed outbreaks.


The Department of Health continues to recommend these masking guidelines to child care centers:

  • When COVID-19 Community Levels are high, the Department of Health recommends universal masking for all students and staff, especially if there is difficulty incorporating other prevention strategies like adequate ventilation and spacing.
  • During an active outbreak, child care centers should consult with their local health departments about whether to require short-term universal masking or masking in affected classrooms.
  • Students and staff who return to child care after 5 full days of isolation should be required to mask during days 6-10, or until they test negative using two antigen tests collected at least 48 hours apart starting on day 6.
  • After a COVID-19 exposure, exposed individuals should wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days from last exposure, regardless of vaccination status.
  • When illness occurs, students or staff who become ill with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 while in care should wear a mask until they leave the premises.

Stay Home When Sick

Students and staff should stay home if they test positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms like coughing, fever, sore throat, vomiting, or diarrhea. Parents and caregivers should monitor their children for signs of illness.

Regardless of vaccination status, individuals who test positive or have COVID-19 symptoms but have not been tested and do not have an alternative diagnosis from their healthcare provider should:

  • Stay home for at least 5 full days after the onset of symptoms (or, if symptoms are not present, after the positive test).
  • If they have no symptoms or symptoms are lessening after 5 days, they can return to child care and should wear a mask around others (indoors and outdoors) for an additional 5 days including participation in any extracurricular activities. Time without a mask being worn should be kept to a minimum.

For more details, see the NJ Department of Health's Public Health Recommendations for K-12 Schools, Child Care, and Youth Camps.

Support for Child Care Costs

New Jersey's Child Care Subsidy Program can help lower-income families who are working, in training, in school, or a combination of these activities to pay a portion of their child care.

For more information and how to apply, visit

Support for Child Care Centers

Grants are available to child centers to manage added operational costs due to new COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. Eligible child care centers can apply for grants through the New Jersey Child Care Information System.

Sources:; NJ Department of Health's Public Health Recommendations for K-12 Schools, Child Care, and Youth Camps.