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.

Regulatory Work

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.

CAPS

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..

2013

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:

  • Permanent employees must have a satisfactory fingerprint check returned by DECAL before they can begin working.
  • However, where employers have an immediate staffing need (i.e.: ratios), staff can be hired as a provisional employee after obtaining a local background check.
  • Most employees will fall under a provisional status since many facilities are not given the luxury of hiring teachers at an extended notice.
  • The creation of this level of employee was a big concession from DECAL and alleviated the potential to have classrooms out of ratio while waiting for a fingerprint check to be returned from the agency
  • Fingerprint check is portable for one year.

Fingerprint regulations:

  • GCCA met with DECAL to work on the fingerprint regulations, especially defining the length of time a provisional employee would have to obtain their record check. 
  • DECAL originally suggested 10 days and we discussed that 21 calendars days would better fit the needs of our business.  This was approved through regulations this month.
  • All contractors left unsupervised with children (e.g.: dance teachers) must have valid fingerprint checks.
  • All DECAL consultants who may be alone with children are required to get background checks as well.
  • Background checks will be portable from center to center for one year (no repeat check inside that year for new hires).

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.

  • Due to a significant increase in the number of citations and fines around the passenger checklist, GCCA is worked with DECAL to simplify the checklist so it requires fewer signatures and will potentially minimize confusion. The GCCA  presented DECAL a proposed checklist significantly reducing the number of signatures required, streamlining the form. The GCCA identified several regulations needing clarification, as well as potential rewrites. The GCCA worked with DECAL on suggested language.  Below are the GCCA suggestions incorporated into now current regulations.

  1. Permitting any other person either on the bus or at center to conduct the 2nd check required.  Previously restricted to those “not on the vehicle”.
  2. Accepting either signature or initials on transportation checklists. Many providers have been cited for using initials.
  3. Requiring the same procedures for all vehicles regardless of alarm installation. This reduces confusion from providers and current regulations were not written to use alarms properly.
  4. Reducing unneeded signatures and names from the checklist.
  5. GCCA has generated additional suggestions which include a  modified penalty rubricthat is under review in the enforcement task force that will hopefully lead to the reduction of  provider transportation revocations.
  6.  GCCA has partnered with DECAL to provide face to face transportation training program that will improve provider education on rules and regulations and enhance practices.

Pre-K

  • Pre-K Budget for FY14 increased from $299M to $312M and 10 days of instruction were added back.  GCCA advocated for the return of the 10 remaining days and an increase to provider operating funds. The class size still remains at 22 children per class and although funding did increase for both teacher salaries and non-instructional costs from FY13, providers are still being paid slightly less than they were in FY11 (180 days) when they only had 20 children in the classroom.   GCCA will continue conversations around fully funding the program and work to ensure that as class size reverts back to 20, operating funds are preserved.
  • Rep. Christian Coomer (R-Cartersville) sponsored HB 372, lowering the HOPE grant GPA to 2.0 allowing more teachers to remain qualified and obtain their Technical Child Care Certificate (TCC).  HOPE Grants will now pay for 92% of early education tuition in technical colleges including the TCC which is one of the lead teacher credentials.
    • GCCA worked diligently on a bill denying unemployment benefits for Pre-K teachers during holiday and summer breaks. The legislation got caught in the politics between the House and Senate in the 11th hour. Currently there is still a regulation that we had promulgated that prohibits this practice; however it may begin getting overturned due to a conflict at the federal level. A legislative fix will be our main focus in 2014.

Other Legislation Impacting Child Care

  • Family Provider Loophole: GCCA worked closely with DECAL to close the family child care “unpaid” ratio loophole by passing HB 354. In addition to the safety benefit for children, we anticipate that this could bring additional families to center care versus family or unlicensed scenarios.


 2012

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.

 2011

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.

 2010

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

  • Voices for Children, Birth to Five Coalition, Leadership Team, Co-Chair of Early Education
  • GEEARS, Strategic Partner
  • Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Policy Committee
  • DECAL Exemption Workgroup
  • DECAL QRIS Test Pilot
  • Early Challenge Fund Grant Team
  • United Way Pre K Workgroup
  • DECAL Pre K Advisory Group, Child Care Licensing Advisory Group, Quality Improvement Advisory Group, Professional Development Advisory Group and Nutrition Advisory Group
  • Children’s Healthcare partner on childhood obesity
  • Early Care and Education Consortium partner state


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Alpharetta, Georgia 30005
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