LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Department of Human Services has updated its guidelines for childcare facilities across Arkansas.
The changes are clarifications on the existing guidance, which limits the size of any group to 10 or less.
“The group size has always been 10 since the beginning of the pandemic, but now what we are saying is even on playgrounds, cafeterias, gymnasiums, common areas that the kids in the groups of 10 should try as best possible to not be combined,” said Ashelyn Abney, with DHS.
"Change is hard on these children,” said Robert Scott, owner of A Kids Place in Benton. “In the mornings, it'll break your heart. They know the routine. They'll walk up bend their head over, take their temperature."
Scott has watched, for months now, his students adjust to the pandemic and it hasn't been easy. The challenges are becoming harder.
With the latest childcare pandemic clarifications coming from DHS, Scott said it's going to put a financial strain on his company.
"It's a burden as far as staff-wise, meeting payroll because you have to add more staff. You have to add more room. You have to add additional equipment and supplies,” said Scott.
He now is looking for additional staff members to cover recess, the movie room, and the cafeteria to ensure each group of children are spread out in the common areas.
"Everything that we do is for the health and safety of the children. It is why we have the minimum licenses requirements in place,” said Abney.
Abney said this is just one of the latest clarifications that come as a continued effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
"Another clarification that was given is over positive cases, so that if someone has come in contact with a known positive that they would also quarantine until the end of the person's quarantine,” said Abney.
For Scott, he’s just trying to figure out how to comply, but will continue to bring the very safest environment for his students, including curbside parent pick-up and limiting the amount of traffic inside the facility.
"You know, the sun will come up tomorrow and we all have to live our lives,” said Scott.
DHS holds a bi-weekly call for licensed childcare facilities.
They have made themselves available to answer any questions regarding the guidelines and any confusion there may be.
If you are a licensed childcare facility, you can contact your licensing specialist for more information on how to join a scheduled call.