Both the House and Senate have acted on child care safety legislation and passed versions of their version of the bills on to the other body. We can celebrate that child care in Virginia will be safer going forward! However, because the House and Senate versions of this legislation are so different, they will end up with a “Conference Committee” of three Delegates and three Senators to hash out the differences.
SENATE CHILD CARE SAFETY LEGISLATION
The Senate ended up passing three bills:
1. SB1123 (Barker)– Linking receipt of child care subsidy to licensure- This bill would impact the 17% of providers that do not have a state license and currently serve children accepting subsidy. In the future, these providers would need a state license or would not participate in the child care subsidy program. In practical application, some of these providers currently fall under religious exemption and some are already monitored at the local level by local ordinances on the books in Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax.
2. SB1055 (Hanger)– National fingerprint background checks- This bill would require fingerprint background checks for all licensed and registered child care providers and volunteers and annual checks of the CPS registry and upon application for employment. This process would go into effect July 1, 2017. A budget amendment of $250,000 is included to begin to hire staff to process background checks.
3. SB1168 (Hanger)– Counting provider’s children in threshold for licensure for a family day care home- Current law exempts the provider’s own children, or any children that reside in the home, in counting toward the threshold when licensing applies. This bill would factor in children under age 6 and present in the home when care is being provided. This policy would go into effect July 1, 2016. A budget amendment of $750,000 is included to begin a media campaign notifying of the change in policy.
This bill also includes provisions that an unlicensed family day home must give notice to DSS when operating without a license and that localities should inform DSS on a semi-annual basis when family day home providers seek a business license.
HOUSE CHILD CARE SAFETY LEGISLATION
The House ended up passing one omnibus bill HB1570 (Orrock). The provisions of HB1570 include:
-Drops the threshold for licensure of a family day home from 6 unrelated children to 5.
– Adds national fingerprint background check for all licensed child care programs; effective July 1, 2017.
– Requires child care providers receiving subsidy funds to comply with new federal requirements (fingerprint background checks, on-site inspections, compliance with health and safety standards and training). Does not require state licensure but compliance with many components of state licensure or monitoring.
– Adds requirement that unlicensed family day homes provide notice to parents of unlicensed status.
– Requires localities to inform DSS on a semi-annual when a business license is issued to a family day home.
– Requires DSS to create regulations requiring providers to notify parents in emergency situations.
– Asks DSS to provide recommendations for appropriate penalties when a provider operations without a license.
– Asks DSS to apprise the General Assembly of CCDBG requirements.
– Budget language requiring DSS to work with localities to minimize duplicate inspections of day care homes.
The House included $17 million in federal funds (Non General Funds) for the implementation of the provisions of the omnibus legislation. DSS is currently carrying balances in CCDBG and TANF federal funds that could be used to cover some of these costs.
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