March 26, 2020

Dear Residential Provider:

Governor Abbott issued Executive Order GA-08 on March 19, 2020 relating to COVID-19 preparedness and mitigation. In this order, the Governor made clear that “[a]ll critical infrastructure will remain operational . . . and governmental entities and businesses will continue providing essential services.” As you know, your operation provides 24-hour care for children, including those for whom the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has been appointed managing conservator. Accordingly, your operation provides essential services.

Of course, your operation must prevent any staff member who shows signs of COVID-19 or another contagious health condition from having contact with children. In the event that COVID-19 causes your operation challenges in meeting staffing requirements, HHSC encourages you to communicate with the HHSC Child Care Regulation Department for guidance. Otherwise, so long as your operation continues to provide 24-hour care to children, you must have sufficient staff to care and supervise those children and meet other requirements that have not been waived.

In the event that you believe that a shelter-in-place order or another order may affect your staff’s ability to work at your operation, HHSC encourages you to communicate with the local authority that issued the order in order to clarify that your operation provides essential services to the children who reside at your operation. HHSC encourages you to provide a copy of this letter to the local authority. You may refer the authority to HHSC for further clarification. Authorized local officials may also request legal advice by sending an email to disaster-counsel@oag.texas.gov, or by making a web request online.

We all share responsibility for responding to the COVID-19 disaster in a way that protects the most vulnerable and ensures the health and safety of all Texans. HHSC appreciates your operation’s essential role in this collaborative endeavor. 

Sincerely,

Jean Shaw
Associate Commissioner
for Child Care Regulation