TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Child care centers in Kansas will soon be able to provide more rapid coronavirus tests.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is partnering with Battelle to provide rapid self-delivered COVID-19 testing to all licensed child care providers in the state.

Battelle has been selected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to manage the logistics of administering COVID-19 tests for millions of Americans in 16 states through the Midwest Expanded Testing Coordination Hub. 

“Until vaccines are approved for our kids, testing is one of the best tools we have to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and child care centers. Child care providers have done excellent work throughout the pandemic to keep our children safe. With this extra assistance, our providers can ensure Kansas families maintain access to safe, quality child care,” said Gov. Laura Kelly.

The state is hoping access to rapid testing, which can usually provide results within minutes, will reduce the spread of COVID-19 and control outbreaks. According to the state’s health department, testing in child care settings helps identify individuals who have the virus but do not have symptoms and who may be contagious.

Many child care providers in the state already have safety measures in place, like wearing masks, social distancing and taking the temperature of children and visitors before they walk-in. Right now, some day cares are also using saliva tests to detect the virus and have found it beneficial.

Melissa Patterson, the owner of Patterson Family Child Care Center in Topeka, said rapid tests would be a huge help.

“Well, during this time, during the pandemic, testing is very important. I feel it’s important, not only just to keep the staff safe, but keep the children that we are caring for safe,” Patterson said.

The state hopes testing can support organizations with maintaining normal operations and keeping children, staff, visitors and volunteers safe.

Outreach for the Midwest Coordination Center is ramping up this month. Saliva testing is now available for children as young as 3 years old, and nasal swab testing is available for children as young as 5 years old, both with a 24 to 48-hour turnaround time for results. Testing supplies, shipping and technical assistance are available at no charge.

These services are also available to other congregate settings in Kansas such as schools, organizations that provide group services for children, homeless shelters, group homes or detention centers.

For more information on the testing program, click here.