A new law in Connecticut seeks to assist homeless children with immediate enrollment in childcare. Public Act 18-172, which was signed into law by the Governor in June, creates a 90-day grace period for caregivers to submit certain health documentation, including immunizations and physical examinations, for homeless children entering certain child care settings.
Each year close to 1,000 children stay with a parent in one of Connecticut’s domestic violence shelters. In fiscal year 2017, 60% of the children staying in the domestic violence shelter system were 6 years old or younger. The situation surrounding the entrance of many victims into domestic violence shelters is typically one of urgency. Victims are fleeing an increasingly unsafe situation and may not have time to gather all of their belongings before leaving. Medical and health documentation for their children may be one of the things that they do not think to take before they leave the home and it may be unsafe to try to get once they’re gone.
Immediate access to stable child care is particularly helpful for children in an episode of homelessness by providing structure and support during a very stressful and often traumatic time. This policy change ensures that a homeless child has immediate access to child care services while their parent works to secure the required health documentation. For victims, immediate access to child care means that they can seek employment, participate in job training, search for new permanent housing and complete other necessary tasks to address their safety and housing needs.
The new law, which went into effect on July 1, applies to various licensed child care facilities in Connecticut including child care centers, group child care homes, or family child care homes (the new law does not apply to license-exempt facilities such as in-school daycares, etc.). Children and youth defined in federal law under 42 USC 11434a, which includes children living in domestic violence shelters or transitional housing, are included in the new grace period.