Recent GCCA Successes
2014 Legislative Successes
2014 GCCA Regulatory and Legislative Impact
2014 Session Work
HB 714--GCCA worked closely with bill sponsor (R) Mark Hamilton, Cumming on HB 714. This legislation prevents Georgia Pre-K teachers from obtaining unemployment benefits during holiday and summer breaks as long as they have reasonable assurance they will have work upon their return.
Erroneous unemployment claims drive up total payroll expenses by impacting their unemployment insurance experience rating. This bill becomes a law in January 2015 and will save Pre-K providers thousands and our state millions. This bill creates parity between teachers in the public and private Pre-K programs.
This bill became extremely controversial during the session due to cafeteria workers and bus drivers who were caught up in the bill. Many of their employers were using the unemployment system to subsidize their summer pay and deplete the state’s unemployment fund. GCCA embarked upon a vigorous grassroots effort, arduous lobbying and committee testimony to help enable this bill to pass.
This victory was the result of a four year battle that began with successfully amending the Department of Labor’s rules two years prior. Unfortunately, the Obama administration threatened to withhold all federal unemployment dollars to Georgia unless benefits resumed until this legislation passed.
GCCA worked with DECAL to ensure transparent and consistent refutation processes were communicated to providers for citation disagreements. DECAL now includes these steps on all licensing and monitoring visit paperwork and has conducted Webinars on the process.
GCCA initiated DECAL workgroups that resulted in amending existing transportation rules to simplify checklists and have rules that reflect best practices to keep children safe.
GCCA was instrumental in working with DECAL to revise burdensome transportation regulations. Over a year’s worth of efforts to simplify transportation regulations and accompanying forms was approved by DECAL in February 2014. GCCA worked with DECAL to host the first transportation training as required by the new regulation. The required passenger checklists were dramatically simplified, placing emphasis back on supervising children and not form completion.
GCCA has worked with DECAL on a case by case basis to discuss the need for consistent penalties associated with each regulatory infraction, especially as it relates to transportation. Increased penalties by the agency and unpredictable enforcement actions have left providers with much uncertainty. DECAL has convened an Enforcement Action Task Force to evaluate the policies and procedures for issuing citations, fines, closures, etc. Once this system is implemented, centers with similar infractions should receive similar penalties. In addition, the system will be redesigned using a center’s past history for specific citations as the basis for enforcement actions. DECAL has taken a positive step in treating transportation rules the same as other regulations.
GCCA has worked closely with the DECAL to ensure a smooth transition as new fingerprint regulations were implemented and intervened for providers who encountered issues. GCCA identified areas of concern and solutions including adding additional categories of employees to the application. Additional categories of “temporary employee” and “student in training” help to reduce the perception of liability for that employee’s action as they are not truly employed by center until fingerprint checks are cleared.
On behalf of providers behind the scenes, GCCA was able to prevent DECAL from misinterpreting a federal manufacturing playground guideline which would have required all playgrounds to be retro-fitted or upgraded to 2013 ASTM standards. GCCA brought industry experts to speak with DECAL to explain the complexity of design and worked through the details with DECAL. Had GCCA not intervened, this would have resulted in millions of dollars of costly repairs and hundreds of playgrounds being deemed unsafe.
GCCA has worked on the DECAL CAPS task force to bring to the agency over 13 pages of improvements covering topics such as eligibility and family requirements, improved communication and customer service and family fees. The work of this year long task force is under way and will take 18 months to complete.
Due to increased issues with the CAPS program and the migration away from caseworkers to an 800 number, GCCA has conducted a survey for providers to report concerns. The surveys, along with suggested improvements, are being shared with Commissioner Jacobs in an effort to provide a short term solution for providers and families.GCCA Executive Director is currently working with GEEARS, the Blank Foundation and other advocacy organizations on a cost model for centers to demonstrate for higher reimbursement rates. This work will carry over into the 2015 legislative session..
Below is an overview of the accomplishments of the Georgia Child Care Association (GCCA) during the 2013 session of the Georgia General Assembly. This includes legislation and regulatory updates, as well as our plans for moving the GCCA agenda forward into the 2014 session of Georgia General Assembly.
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Amended Fingerprint Legislation with the following concessions from DECAL for providers:
• Employers have THREE years to get existing employees fingerprint background checks.
• Employees must have repeat fingerprint checks every FIVE years instead of annually.
• Employers now have two designations of employees:
• Permanent and Provisional:
Any center failing to follow the fingerprint rule or employs staff with an unsatisfactory record can have their license revoked!
Transportation Regulation Update
GCCA created a transportation work group to provide DECAL recommendations on less burdensome and inherently safer transportation regulations and checklist improvements.
Other Legislation Impacting Child Care
Reviewed DECAL’s proposed 2012 legislative strategy to impose fingerprint background checks for all child care employees and successfully advocated for delay until additional Live-SCAN devices were accessible and additional logistical issues were solved.
Advocated for Pre K provider operating expense restoration in FY13 budget and obtained support from legislature of additional $850K for providers.
Defeated HB 152 which would have given faith based programs broader exemptions to licensing with no national oversight.
Worked in partnership with DECAL to create a first of a kind child care licensing survey to provide customer service feedback on licensing consultants and identify areas of training opportunity for providers and BFTS.
Worked with DECAL to add language to HB 397 which was passed to exempt personal information on the Professional Development Registry such as personal emails and cell phone numbers from disclosure on Open Record’s Requests.
Received commitment from Commissioner Cagle and DECAL board to revise summer camp exemptions to impose health and safety requirements for programs.
Worked on DECAL Exemption Task Force and helped to influence and rewrite after school exemption which prohibits karate studios, gymnastics and other type programs from operating after school programs.
Successfully lobbied against HB 385 which would have imposed a sales tax on child care services beginning in 2013.
Met with Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler to modify existing regulations to address the issue of Pre K teachers claiming unemployment benefits during holiday and summer breaks. Rule change ( 300-2 -9-.07) eff. 2/12
Successfully advocated for 5,100 CAPS slots to be restored in the current DHS 2012-2013 budget.
Initiated meeting with DECAL and other stakeholders to discuss exempt summer camp programs issues and requested that DECAL add an exempt programs “locator” to DECAL’s website.
Influenced DECAL to drop CRCT scores from criteria used to determine target counties for Pre K classroom closings as it would have penalized high performing Pre K sites.
Influenced DECAL to accept more flexible provider Pre K calendars for 160 days of instruction.
Met with Commissioner Cagle and Kay Hellwig of Child Care Licensing to obtain commitment to change culture and process change of consultants to a more collaborative approach.
Defeated SB 152 which would have granted broader exemptions to licensing for faith based programs with no national oversight.
Established regular meetings with Commissioner Cagle and his team to allow for open flow of communication.
GCCA met weekly with the Governor’s office and staff to provide input on how to apply the Pre K cuts with the least amount of disruption to providers.
Recognition by DECAL that they had not been following the Administrative Procedures Act under Commissioner Robinson and a commitment from DECAL that they will now follow the appropriate procedures including giving proper notice for meeting and rule changes and allowing providers a voice in that process.
Obtained Commissioner Cagle’s commitment to put to halt any burdensome rule changes for four months until we have had a chance to work with him.
Secured significant TV and print media coverage on outdated exemptions to licensing which forced DECAL to begin the process of revising and updating afterschool licensing exemptions.
Obtained commitment from DECAL Commissioner Holly Robinson not to revise group size and ratio regulations in the current economic environment.
GCCA’S Growth in the Community Program Involvement