Recent GCCA Successes
2013 Legislative Successes
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.
• 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 working with DECAL to simplify the checklist so it requires fewer signatures and will potentially minimize confusion. The GCCA has 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 is currently working with DECAL on suggested language. During our conference, they shared the progress that they have already made to incorporate our proposals. A sample of the changes discussed:
1. Permitting any other person either on the bus or at center to conduct the 2nd check required. Currently 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 rubric” that will hopefully lessen the number of provider transportation revocations.
• DECAL has asked GCCA to work on a transportation training program that will improve provider education on rules and regulations and enhance practices.
• Providers that receive a fine can submit a request for consideration to DECAL’s attorney Ira Sudman (Ira.firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask that the fine money be spent on health and safety improvements at their center. If it is a direct correlation to the fine, DECAL is highly likely to accept this request. It will also consider other non-related health and safety requests.
- • 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.
Looking to the 2014 session
The 2014 session is expected to be very abbreviated with a goal of being out by mid March, which is the earliest in over 10 years. 2014 is a big election year with Governor being up for re-election and an open U.S. Senate seat. You will see many legislators running for office and a higher turnover rate. The primary has been moved up to May 20th, approximately two months earlier than in previous years. This greatly reduces the time legislators have to raise money, since they cannot raise money during session.
Given the time line of the session, there will be very little legislation being introduced. GCCA must have a laser focus on fixing the Pre-k unemployment benefits issue. We have been discussing this fix with leadership over the interim and there is great interest in passing legislation to do this.
We will also continue to advocate for Pre-K operating funds for providers as government looks to return class size from 22 to 20 children.
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
- 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