Regulated Child Care COVID-19 Tests For Tots Program

In response to a rapidly shifting COVID-19 context, the State of Vermont is expanding the COVID-19 Test to Stay program to regulated Center Based Child Care Preschool Programs and licensed or registered Family Child Care Homes. The State will supply the tests at no cost to the programs. This webpage is intended to describe the Tests for Tots program for children 2 - 5 years old and for program staff. The antigen test kits that the State has available are limited to children over the age of two years, consistent with their emergency use authorization from the FDA.

This program is designed to support continued in-person care and education for children in this age range since they do not have the option of a vaccination at this time. The program also aims to reduce the impacts of widespread quarantine on children, their families, and childcare providers. The program is voluntary but does have requirements that providers will certify to follow should they choose to participate.

Who can participate?

  • Child Care Programs: Regulated Center-based Child Care Preschool Programs that are not school based, and licensed and registered Family Child Care Homes can opt into this program if they complete the Intent to Participate and certify that they will strictly adhere to the guidelines. PreK programs, located in school buildings should work with their schools on process and protocol.
  • Participants: Children ages 2 – 5 years old enrolled in the eligible childcare program, and staff who are not fully vaccinated who are close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case or who become symptomatic. Five-year olds who are identified as a close contact in their childcare location can participate in either their school’s program or the childcare Tests for Tots program. The childcare program and/or parent/caregiver should communicate/coordinate with the school.

Parents/caregivers within programs that do participate in Tests for Tots can choose not to participate as well. Families that choose not to participate are not eligible to receive take home tests.  

Test Kit Supply and Distribution

Initial Supply

Child care programs must complete the Intent to Participate form to receive an initial supply of test kits. 

For the State to issue test kits quickly, child care programs will need to pick up their initial kits at one of the Agency of Transportation (AOT) garages; this is a one-time pickup. Please review the Test Kit Pickup Instructions for details. 

The Intent to Participate form will no longer be active after 5 pm on Monday, January 17, 2022. Should you decide to participate in the program after that, or when you need to restock your supply of test kits, you will use a web-based order procedure. More information on this process will be available soon.

Ongoing Supply

When child care programs have used 50% of their test kits, they can place a subsequent order for that number of kits to restock their inventory. We anticipate that subsequent resupply orders will be made through a web-based form. More information on this process will be available soon.

Testing Process

Children and Staff Without Symptoms

When it is discovered that a child or staff member with COVID-19 was present in the childcare program during their infectious period, the program will implement Tests for Tots for close contacts within the childcare program.

  1. The program should conduct contact tracing within the childcare program to identify close contacts of the person who is positive and the most recent day those individuals had contact with the person who is positive. (Programs are encouraged to use attendance records for this.)   
  2. Children and staff who are close contacts can finish the day as normal.
  3. The following day, close contacts who are ages 6 weeks to 23 months should not be attending child care, they should quarantine. If the childcare program has the ability to keep children between the ages of 6 weeks to 23 months, who are not close contacts, isolated from the other children in the program they may attend childcare. If not they should not attend the program.
  4. Close contacts who are 2 - 5 years old and unvaccinated staff will receive a kit of antigen take home tests to test for up to 5 days from the date of the last exposure to the person who is positive.  Example: if the close contact was the day before, the Tests for Tots child/staff will test for 5 days. If the close contact was 3 days prior, the Tests for Tots child/staff will test for 2 days.
  5. Close contacts who are 2 - 5 and unvaccinated staff can attend childcare as normal after they have tested and have a negative result before arriving at the program. The program should ask parents/guardians and staff about test results daily but should not require proof of a negative test.
  6. Children and staff who are testing daily must wear masks while indoors (except when eating or napping) when they are actively participating in Tests for Tots and attending the childcare program.
  7. During the time that children and staff are participating in Tests for Tots, they should quarantine while outside of the program, including nights and weekends in accordance with Vermont Department of Health Guidance.
  8. Children of families who elect not to participate in the Tests for Tots program must quarantine according to Vermont Department of Health Guidance and cannot use the Test for Tots take home test kits.
Exemptions for Children and Staff Without Symptoms
  • Close contacts who are fully vaccinated (Adults: if their second shot of the primary series was more than 5 months ago, they must have received their booster. Five-year olds: their primary series was completed at least 2 weeks prior) do not need to quarantine and do not participate in Tests for Tots. They must wear a mask around other people while in the child care program for the next 10 days following the appropriate instructions at Vermont Department of Health Guidance.
  • Close contacts who have had a confirmed case of COVID-19 within 90 days do not need to quarantine and do not participate in Tests for Tots. They must wear a mask around other people while in the child care program for the next 10 days.

Children and Staff with Symptoms

When a child or staff member has COVID-19 symptoms, they must leave the childcare program as soon as possible and should be provided with an antigen take home test kit. The families of children who did not attend the program because of symptoms should also be contacted and encouraged to pick-up an antigen take-home test kit for their child enrolled in the program.

The individual may return to the childcare program once symptoms are resolved, and they have been without a fever or fever reducing medicine for 24 hours (this is the current infectious disease protocol in child care licensing regulations) and they have negative test results on two antigen take home tests as close to 24 hours apart as possible.

If the antigen test result is positive:
  1. The individual should stay home and follow Vermont Department of Health Guidance.
  2. The program will follow Steps 3-7 above.



  • Information on COVID-19 symptoms, defining close contacts, quarantine, etc., can be found on the Vermont Department of Health website. For questions about that information, please contact the Vermont Department of Health at 802-863-7240 (toll-free at 833-722-0860). Staff at the Child Development Division are not experts in COVID-19 and cannot answer questions of this nature.
  • Questions related to test kit supply, reorders, and distribution can be directed to

Page Last Updated: 1/14/2022

Contact Us

Miranda Gray, Interim Deputy Commissioner
Child Development Division (CDD)
280 State Drive
Waterbury, VT 05671-1040
Phone: (802) 241-3110 or 1-800-649-2642
Fax: (802) 241-0846

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