Statement from Attorney General on Day Care Providers and Consumers

March 19, 2020

AUGUSTA - In response to inquiries received by the office, Attorney General Aaron M. Frey released the following statement addressing questions raised by day care providers and consumers:

"The Office of the Attorney General is receiving questions about whether a day care provider may legally shut down and continue to charge while it is closed during this emergency. The answer to this question will depend on the agreements reached between the day care provider and the consumer. If there is a written contract that covers emergency closure, the contract will likely govern. If there is no written contract, or the written contract does not cover emergency closures, there may be an implied contract arising from the pre-existing course of dealing. For example, if in the absence of a specific agreement a consumer pays a day care provider that is closed for a snow day, that pre-existing course of dealing may mean payment would be required during this emergency.

There are emergency relief provisions being put in place by the state and federal governments. You should look to those measures for relief for unemployment and business losses. Hopefully these measures will alleviate the burden on both day care providers and those that need their services. Existing law relies on the law of contract to allocate the losses between the day care provider and user and if the parties cannot come to an agreement, a court would decide each case, on a case by case basis.

Finally, it is being incorrectly reported that the Office of the Attorney General is investigating the actions of the child care industry in response to the COVID-19 emergency. This is simply not true. While the office has received calls from consumers with questions specific to their day care provider, we are dealing with these in the same way the office deals with any consumer complaint about a specific service they receive."