Child Care Immunization Requirement Changes for Hurricane Katrina Evacuees
The following is a summary of State policy changes to immunization requirements for children who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina enrolling in child care programs. Included is information from a sample of States that made policy changes in response to the hurricane, including Florida, which waived documentation requirements for its prekindergarten program. Also included is information about the Centers for Disease Control's recommendations for immunizations for children displaced by the hurricane and the Federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which requires States to remove barriers so that homeless children can get a free public education. This information was initially gathered in the weeks immediately following Hurricane Katrina and may not reflect current State policies in a time of non-emergency status. NCCIC does not endorse any non-Federal practice, organization, publication, or resource.
The California Department of Health Services issued a memorandum stating that children who were in licensed child care settings or schools in Alabama, Louisiana, or Mississippi before being displaced to California were initially presumed to be up to date for vaccinations required in California. Once students were enrolled, California Health and Safety Code, Section 120340 and California Code of Regulations, Sections 6045 and 6070 (d) allowed child care facilities and schools to admit students who were transferred from a school in another State. It allowed families a period of up to 30 school days (i.e., approximately 6 school weeks) to produce their children's immunization records. Additional information is available at www.dhs.ca.gov/ps/dcdc/izgroup/pdf/katrinaevacueeizreqsletter.pdf.
The Florida Office of Early Learning Services (formerly the Florida Partnership for School Readiness) waived the customary documentation for enrolling 4-year-olds in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Program. Additional information is available from the Office of Early Learning Services by calling 850-488-3026 or visiting the Web at www.floridaearlylearning.com.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued a memo stating that displaced children and youth entering regulated child care facilities were not required to provide documentation of current immunizations and health assessment for up to 60 days. For additional information, call the Division of Health, Bureau of Child Care and Health Facilities – Child Care Unit, Kansas Department of Health and Environment at 785-296-1270 or visit the Web at http://www.kdheks.gov/bcclr/child_care.html.
The Maryland State Department of Education issued a memo that directed state-regulated child care programs to enroll displaced children immediately, and process them through standard enrollment procedures without authenticating immunization, birth certificates, or other documents that are typically required. For additional information, call the Licensing Branch, Office of Child Care, Maryland State Department of Education at 410-767-7128 or visit the Web at http://marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/divisions/child_care/.
The Massachusetts Office of Early Learning and Care issued a memorandum stating that displaced families would be allowed up to 6 months from the time of their child's admission into the licensed child care program to provide documentation of their child's immunization and physical examination. Additional information is available at www.mass.gov/edu/government/departments-and-boards/department-of-earl....
The Mississippi Department of Health offered 60-day provisional enrollment status to students transferring from areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. This provisional status meant that students or their families did not have to present student immunization records prior to admission to any school or licensed child care facility in order to attend classes for the first 60 days. Additional information is available at http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/41,0,81.html.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Regulation and Licensure announced that children who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina and who were entering child care in Nebraska did not need to show proof of immunizations before entering care. Additional information is available by calling the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services at 402-471-3121 or visiting the Web at www.hhs.state.ne.us/.
The New Mexico Department of Health gave students enrolling in schools and child care facilities and who were staying with family members, friends, or others in New Mexico a 30-day provisional enrollment without showing proof of immunizations. Additional information is available at www.hsd.state.nm.us/pdf/090205HSDtoCoordinateHuricaneRelief.pdf.
The New York Office of Children and Families allowed children displaced by Hurricane Katrina to be initially enrolled in a child care program for up to 30 days without proof of immunization in accordance with Public Health Law, section 2164(7). Additional information is available at www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/.
The Ohio Department of Job and Families Services allowed a 90-day waiver of the requirements for verification of immunizations for children from families displaced by Hurricane Katrina enrolling in child care centers and family child care homes. Additional information is available at www.odjfs.state.oh.us/.
The Oklahoma State Departments of Health and Education announced that standard immunization requirements for attending school or child care facilities in Oklahoma were temporarily waived for children displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Students who were staying with family members or friends in Oklahoma, or whose families sought temporary housing in the State, were given a 120-day provisional enrollment. Additional information is available at http://sde.state.ok.us/.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced the relaxation of immunization requirements for children displaced by the effects of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi and who attended school or child care group settings (day care) in Pennsylvania. An 8-month provisional enrollment was given to school students staying with family members, friends, or others in the State. Additional information is available at www.dsf.health.state.pa.us/health/cwp/view.asp?A=171&Q=242511.
The Rhode Island Department of Health allowed enrollment of students transferring from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to Rhode Island schools and child care facilities. Temporary Immunization Exemption Certificates were used to document the status of these children as evacuees of Hurricane Katrina. Additional information is available at www.health.state.ri.us/.
The governor of Tennessee issued an executive order, waiving the requirements for immunizations, health records, and proof of physical exams for children displaced and who were enrolling in child care centers, school-age care programs, family child care homes, and group child care homes. The executive order is available at http://www.tn.gov/sos/pub/execorders/exec-orders-bred28.pdf
The Texas Department of State Health Services announced that normal immunization requirements for attending school or child care facilities in Texas would be temporarily waived for children displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Students staying with family members, friends, or others in Texas were given a 30-day provisional enrollment. Additional information is available on the Texas Department of State and Health Services website.
Federal Recommendations and Law
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), issued recommendations regarding immunizations for children displaced by Hurricane Katrina. It was recommended to States that if immunization records were not available for enrollment in school or child care, children aged 10 years and younger should be treated as if they were up-to-date with recommended immunizations and given any doses that are recommended for their current age. Additional information is available http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/disease/pdf/vaccrecdisplaced.pdf.
- The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, Subtitle VII-B, is the Federal law that entitles children who are homeless to a free, appropriate public education. It requires schools to remove barriers to the enrollment, attendance, and success in school. In response to Hurricane Katrina, States are using this act to allow displaced families more time to provide proof of immunizations for their children enrolling in child care programs and schools. The act, “Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program - Title VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 Non-Regulatory Guidance, July 2004,” is at www.ed.gov/programs/homeless/guidance.pdf. Additional information about the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is available from the National Center for Homeless Education at http://bit.ly/194YKTz.
Updated April 2010