Child Care Resource at Kids Day
Kids Day in Burlington this year was held on Saturday, May 11th at the Waterfront and Battery Park. Child Care Resource had a booth under one of the large tents at Battery Park. Staff and volunteers set up sensory bins for the children to enjoy.
Child Care Regulation Review Update from CDD
To: Vermonters Interested in the Child Care Regulations
Reeva Murphy, Deputy Commissioner
Barbara Thompson-Snow, Director of Child Care Licensing and Financial Assistance
Subject: Update on the Vermont Child Care Regulations Review Work
Date: May 2, 2013
Over the past year the Child Development Division (CDD) has been working through a complete revision of Vermont’s child care regulations with work groups from all areas of the state. The work groups are comprised of child care providers and interested individuals that volunteered to help the division through this process. The division has also collected feedback on drafts of the regulations through an online survey and meetings with interested groups and organizations.
Currently the division is working to develop a final draft based on comments and the feedback from the work groups. There will be revisions based on input to the 2/26/2013 draft. The final draft will be sent to the work group members for review one more time. Once the work group reviews it and final revisions are made, the division will take the regulations to the Vermont Legislative Rules Committee for promulgation.
The promulgation process typically can take six to eight months once it has begun. Steps in the process include:
- A formal public comment period where anyone may comment or recommend changes to the regulations.
- The division reports all comments received to the Legislative Rules Committee. Also the division must report if the comment did or did not result in a change to the draft of the regulations.
- The Rules Committee will review the final draft, the comments, and any changes made to the regulations and can determine if any additional changes must be made.
- The Rules Committee will determine when the revised regulations will be effective.
The division plans to request the revised regulations be put into effect in stages, with at least 6 months (after they are approved) before they are in effect for new programs and longer for currently operating programs. The division will be offering opportunities for programs to become familiar with the revised regulations, and some training may need to be in place once the revised rules are approved.
At this time, the revised regulations are still in draft form, and the current rules will be in effect until the revised rules are approved and implemented. During any visit to a regulated program, a Child Care Licensing Field Specialist will only address the current requirements, until the revised are approved.
Please call 1-800-649-2642 or 802-769-6145 with any questions about this process.
Updates on this process will be posted on the Department’s website here: http://dcf.vermont.gov/cdd/child_care_licensing/regulation_revisions and emails will be distributed to those requesting updates. To request email updates visit this link and fill out the form:
Legislative Update - May 1, 2013
On Monday, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted a $5.4 million increase to child care in the state budget for FY14, including funding for STep Ahead Recognition System (STARS) incentives, Child Care Financial Assistance Program (CCFAP) caseload increases, CCFAP eligibility guidelines set at the 2012 Federal Poverty Level and a 3% increase in CCFAP provider reimbursement rates.The Senate amount is $1.7 million less than the House allocation, therefore, if the Senate budget bill passes, a conference committee representing both the House and Senate will work out the difference.Although the Alliance continues to advocate that a full investment in CCFAP is critical to the affordability of quality child care for Vermont's families, it would urge the conference committee to at least agree to the higher House allocation.Publicly Funded PreKindergartenThe full House of Representatives voted in favor of H.270, the Prekindergarten bill on May 1 with a vote of 95 - 43. The Alliance continues to be engaged with the bill now that it is in the Senate. The Senate Education Committee is currently taking testimony.H.270 requires school districts to provide 10 hours of prekindergarten education, 35 weeks out of the year, for all 3, 4 and (eligible) 5 year-old children residing in their district, whose parents choose to enroll them in a prequalified program. Options available to parents include prequalified private providers or public school programs, both of which could be located within or outside of the child's school district.Program Options: An amendment (by Representative Buxton) on these options passed with the bill. The amendment allows districts to request the option of restricting the geographic region in which eligible children may access publicly funded prequalified prekindergarten providers. If a district chooses this approach, a “prekindergarten region” would be determined jointly by the Agencies of Human Services and Education, in consultation with local school board(s), private providers, parents and guardians and other interested parties. A number of considerations are involved in determining a region.Once the region is determined, all pre-qualified providers within the region would receive tuition at the statewide rate from the school district for all eligible children who enroll in their program. If an eligible child is unable to access publicly funded prekindergarten education within that region, the child’s parent or guardian may make a request and the district may pay tuition at the statewide rate for a prequalified provider located outside the prekindergarten region.
Quality Assurance: Amendment language corrects H.270 to ensure that no exceptions to the quality standards regarding STARS or NAEYC accreditation will be permitted in publicly funded prekindergarten programs.
Click here to see how your Representative voted on H.270.Read today's articles in Vermont Digger and the Times Argus.
Acknowledging Constituent Action
Especially in the last week, legislators have heard from many constituents on the two issues above. Information and community perspectives have enriched discussions in the legislature, influenced decision making and in a number of cases, changed votes in favor of early childhood.
Although the need for advocate voices is not over, the Alliance staff applauds your dedication to weighing in on these important issues when it can make a real difference.
Sincerely, The Alliance Team
Sheila, Lindsay, Robyn, and Kelly
Why Vermont's Child-Care Subsidy Needs Fixing
Expanding access to quality child care has been the hot-button issue of the 2013 legislative session, and nearly all the fuss has swirled around the source of funding. Gov. Peter Shumlin wants to pay for more child care by taking money from low-wage working families that receive the state Earned Income Tax Credit. So far, the Legislature has rejected that idea. But many Vermonters, especially those who aren’t familiar with the state’s Child Care Financial Assistance Program (CCFAP), may wonder why funding for child-care services needs expanding at all.
There are two problems with the current program:
• Insufficient subsidy amount:The state’s base subsidy is so low that it covers the rates charged by only 14 percent of licensed child-care providers. That severely limits access for parents who cannot afford to pay more than the state subsidy.
• Outdated eligibility criteria: Vermont uses old criteria for determining who can receive a subsidy. Therefore, many low-income families don’t qualify and can’t afford child care.
Raise subsidies to improve access
The biggest problem with Vermont’s child-care program is that the subsidy is so small. Two-thirds of the children in the program are from families at or below the federal poverty level, so those parents qualify for the full subsidy amount, which varies based on a child’s age. However, even the full subsidy is below the rate that most licensed child-care providers charge. For example, only 14 percent of licensed providers have rates at or below the base subsidy Vermont pays for a pre-school child (3-5 years old), which is $6,739 a year (Figure 1).
In many cases, providers with higher rates will accept the state subsidy and not ask parents to make up the difference. But just as some doctors don’t treat Medicaid patients because the state payments are too low, some child-care providers can’t afford to accept the state subsidy unless the parents make a copayment. This limits the availability of quality child care for the majority of families that rely on the state subsidy—the lowest-income families, whose children are most at risk of falling behind academically and have been shown to benefit most from quality child care and early education.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends state subsidies at the 75th percentile of market rate—that is, enough to cover rates charged by at least 75 percent of providers. At 2012 market rates, that would be $10,400 a year. The Vermont Early Childhood Alliance (VECA) wants the state to adopt the 75th percentile standard and move toward that goal in stages. For fiscal 2014, VECA’s recommended base subsidy is $8,320 for care of pre-school children by a licensed provider, which would cover about 42 percent of providers at 2012 market rates. The Shumlin administration has recommended raising the base subsidy to $7,598, which would cover about 27 percent of licensed providers at 2012 market rates.
Families with incomes that put them between 100 percent and 200 percent of poverty also qualify for child-care subsidies, but less than the full amount the state pays. Families are eligible for declining amounts as their incomes rise; a family at 200 percent of poverty—the maximum eligibility—can get only 10 percent of the full subsidy. The administration has proposed changes to the sliding fee scale so that families at 200 percent of poverty would qualify for half of the subsidy amount.
While there is general agreement between the administration and the Legislature about the need to increase state support for quality child care, they don’t agree yet on how much more to spend or where the money should go: into increasing the base subsidy or adjusting the fee scale.
Increasing the base subsidy is the only way to improve access to quality child care for all families, especially those at or below 100 percent of poverty—two-thirds of the children in the assistance program. Changing the fee scale could correct a flaw in the system where families with incomes between 100 and 200 percent of poverty—the remaining third of children—find that as their incomes rise they lose more in child-care support than they gain in pay.
Base eligibility on current poverty measures
Another problem with Vermont’s child-care program is that it uses an outdated poverty measure, which means families that should be eligible for subsidies are excluded. Vermont uses 2009 federal poverty guidelines to determine eligibility. For 2013, the poverty line for a family of four is $23,550 in gross income—$1,500 higher than the level Vermont currently uses (Table 1). According to Census data, approximately 5,000 more children would meet the income criterion for the child-care subsidy if Vermont used the 2013 federal poverty guidelines.
Neither the Legislature nor the administration anticipates this change alone would have much effect on the overall caseload as long as the subsidy for families at the maximum eligibility level is so low that few people take advantage of it. Nevertheless, the state should base its income criterion for the child-care subsidy on current poverty guidelines and update it each year.
To improve access to quality child care for all children living in poverty, both problems need to be addressed. The base subsidy should be higher, and the criteria for eligibility should keep up with current guidelines.
© 2013 by Public Assets Institute
This research was funded in part by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. We thank them for their support but acknowledge that the findings presented in this report are those of the Public Assets Institute and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Foundation.
Advocacy for Increase to Child Care Subsidies Continues
Pre-K Update - Bill Summary & More Details
Vermont Early Childhood Alliance
Dear Alliance Supporter,
Within this email is a summary of the prekindergarten bill, H.270, followed by more detailed information regarding tuition, eligibility, capacity and rule making.
We want to highlight that our initial emails on this bill called attention to language regarding quality that raised overwhelming concern among Alliance supporters that the standards for quality were diluted in the bill’s language. The Alliance legislative coordinator for this bill, Lindsay DesLauriers, worked diligently with legislative counsel, bill sponsors, the House Education Committee members, representatives from key state agencies and other advocates to address those raised concerns and will continue to work to ensure that the bill’s language matches its intent that includes maintaining quality.
Additionally, we received numerous questions about tuition, tuition payment, capacity, monitoring, quality and more. Where the bill provides information that addresses these questions, we have conveyed those details within this email. However, much of the operational procedures will be determined in rule-making, therefore we are unable to answer all questions. However, we plan to actively engage Alliance supporters in the rule-making process with the intent of having broadly identified issues and concerns considered and addressed at that time.
To receive up-to-date information and to contribute to the robust conversation among providers, advocates and others interested in prekindergarden, please join the Alliance Pre-K Listserve by sending an email to Kelly Ault, Alliance Public Engagement/Organizer at email@example.com.
Summary of H.270 - An act relating to providing access to publicly funded prekindergarten
School districts will be required to provide and/or pay tuition for at least 10 hours of prekindergarten education for 35 weeks annually for all prekindergarten children residing in their district whose parents enroll them in a qualified program. If a parent or guardian chooses to enroll a prekindergarten child in an available, prequalified prekindergarten program, the school district of the child’s residence will be required to pay a set tuition payment to the program of the parent’s choice.
Details regarding child eligibility, program prequalification, program choice, and capacity of the system:
- A prekindergarten child is defined as a child who, as of the date established by the district of residence, is three, four, or five, but not yet enrolled in kindergarten.
- A program is prequalified if they meet the following criteria:
- A program shall have received (at least) either
- National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation, or
- At least four stars in the DCF STARS system with at least two points in each of the five arenas or three stars if the provider has developed a plan, approved by the Commissioner for Children and Families and the Secretary of Education to achieve four or more stars in no more than two years with at least two points in each of the five arenas, and the provider has met intermediate milestones.
- A licensed provider shall employ or contract for the services of at least one teacher who is licensed and endorsed in early childhood education or early childhood special education. This does not mean that there must be a licensed teacher in each prekindergarten class, but that there must be one licensed teacher directly employed by the provider. It is not specified whether the licensed teacher must be employed full time or on site for the billable hours of publicly funded prekindergarten education.
- A registered home provider who is not his or herself licensed and endorsed in early childhood education or early childhood special education shall receive regular, active supervision and training from a teacher who is licensed and endorsed in early childhood education or early childhood special education.
- Parents and guardians may enroll a prekindergarten child in any available, prekindergarten program of their choosing and the district of residence will be required to pay tuition for that child. Parents may select from available, prequalified programs including:
- A prequalified private provider from within or outside their school district.
- The public school-based program in their school district.
- A public program operated by another school district. In other words, if there is space available in a school-based program operated outside of the child’s district of residence, they may be enrolled in this program and the district of residence will be required to pay tuition for that child to the receiving school district. This is required whether or not the district of residence operates a public prekindergarten program.
- If the supply of prequalified private and public providers does not meet the demand for publicly funded prekindergarten programming in a particular region, school districts are not required to begin or expand a program to satisfy the demand. If this situation arises, the school district will collaborate with the Agencies of Education and Human Services and the local Building Bright Futures Council to develop a regional plan to expand capacity. This means that, while it will not be incumbent on school districts to meet the demand for publicly funded prekindergarten programming, all regions in the state who do not meet the demand will be required to create a plan to address their capacity needs.
Details Regarding Tuition:
The school district of residence is required to pay tuition to the receiving qualified programs for 10 hours per week for 35 weeks annually, provided that the weeks are within the district’s academic year. The tuition rate will be at a statewide rate, which may be adjusted regionally. The statewide rate will be established annually through a process jointly developed and implemented by the Agencies of Education and Human Services.
- A district must pay tuition for a child once the child’s parent or guardian provides notice to the district that the child is or will be admitted to a prekindergarten education program and enrolls their child in the district of residence so that the district can include the child in their budgeting process and in their determination of average daily membership (ADM).
- In the budget process and in the budget presented to voters, school districts must include anticipated tuition payments and any administrative, quality assurance, quality improvement, transition planning, or other prekindergarten-related costs.
- The district of residence may include any prekindergarten child for whom they have paid tuition or directly provided education.
- Prequalified providers who provide more than the publicly funded amount of prekindergarten education or child care may receive additional payment directly from the parent or guardian for time in excess of the hours paid for by the district using public funds. In these situations and for the hours that a child is in their center beyond the hours that are publicly funded, private providers are not bound by the statewide tuition rate, but may charge parents and guardians according to their regular private rate. Although not explicitly stated in the bill, families who receive a subsidy for child care through the Child Care Financial Assistance Program (CCFAP) would be eligible to continue receiving the subsidy for any hours in excess of the time paid for by the district using public education funds.
Details Regarding Rules and Special Provisions:
The Secretary of Education and the Commissioner for Children and Families will jointly develop and agree to rules and present them to the State Board of Education for adoption. The rules will create guidelines and processes for the following several items:
***PLEASE NOTE: This is not a complete list of items referred to rule-making. This is an abridged list based on the interests identified by Alliance advocates.
- Rules will be developed to create a process that will allow private providers who are not prequalified according to the standards described above to continue in existing or to create new partnerships with school districts to offer prekindergarten. Through these partnerships, school districts will provide supports that will enable the un-prequalified provider to fulfill the requirements for prequalification. As a part of this, school districts may provide in-kind services to the provider to account for a portion of the state tuition money otherwise owed to the provider. For example, in a situation where an otherwise prequalified provider does not have a licensed teacher on staff, the school district may provide the time of a licensed teacher and retain a portion of the tuition due to the provider equal to the value of the teacher’s time.
- Rules will be developed to guide the process by which school districts may begin or expand prekindergarten programming. If a district wants to expand or create a prekindergarten program, prior approval must be obtained through a process jointly overseen by the Secretaries of Education and Human Services. The process (to be developed as described above) shall be based on an analysis of the number of prekindergarten children residing in the district and the availability of enrollment opportunities with prequalified private providers in the region. Where the data are not clear or there are other complex considerations, the Secretaries may choose to conduct a community needs assessment.
- Rules will be developed to standardize and ensure smooth collaboration between districts and providers including: timely enrollment of prekindergarten children, timely payment of tuition, agreements between districts and private providers, and a process by which a provider who has received tuition payment from a district must notify the district that the child is no longer enrolled.
- Rules will be developed to establish the process by which an annual statewide tuition rate will be determined. The tuition rate must be based on the actual cost of delivering ten hours per week of prekindergarten education that meets quality standards and allow for regional adjustments.
- Rules will be developed to establish a system by the Agency of Education and Department for Children and Families that will jointly monitor prekindergarten programs to promote optimal outcomes for children and to collect data that will inform future decisions. Several items are required to be included in the monitoring system, including:
- Programmatic details.
- The quality of public and private prekindergarten programs and efforts to ensure continuous quality improvements.
- Child outcomes, specifically including school readiness and proficiency in numeracy and literacy.
- Rules will be developed to establish a process to document the progress of children enrolled in prekindergarten education programs and to require public and private providers to use the process to:
- Help individualize instruction and improve program practice.
- Collect and report child progress data to the Secretary of Education annually.
For a comprehensive list of the items referred to rule making, please consult H.270 directly.
Note: The process that will guide the calculation of equalized pupils is not included in this bill summary. To access this information, please refer to Sections 2 and 3 of H.270.
For questions on the bill or legislative process, contact Lindsay DesLauriers at Lindsay@voicesforvtkids.org or Robyn Freedner-Maguire, Alliance Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Alliance Team
Lindsay, Kelly & Robyn
Call to Action - Pre-K Bill H.270 is currently being discussed in the House Ways and Means Committee
Pre-K Bill H270 is a bill that would require all school districts to offer publicly funded prek (think Colchester) and not only school-based prek ( Richmond...) but families would have to opportunity to choose where the service was provided (qualified providers still required). The bill strongly addresses the importance of community-based programs in partnerships with schools to provide prek services.
The Early Childhood Alliance says that overall, H270 is a good step for expanding publicly funded pre-kindergarten in Vermont and we want this bill to be passed out of the House Committee on Ways and Means. Although we recognize there may be work to be done in fine-tuning the language, we support the concept of this bill and want to continue to have opportunities to discuss the policy details in the next stage of the legislative process.
Because of concerns that the House Committee on Ways and Means Committee may not pass this bill, we are comfortable with a call to action at this critical point that delivers this overall message of support and will allow advocates an opportunity to respond more specifically in the next phase.
If you are a constituent of the following legislators, can you contact them asap (tomorrow is ideal, but by the end of the weekend at the latest) or ask your colleagues, parents, etc who are also constituents to call with support of this bill passing out of the House Committee on Ways and Means?
Rep. Janet Ancel (Calais, Marshfield, Plainfield) Chair,
Rep. Adam Greshin (Duxbury, Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield, Warren)
583-3223; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. David Sharpe (Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton, Starksboro)
Rep. Jeffrey Wilson (Arlington, Manchester, Sandgate, Sunderland)
Rep. Patricia Komline (Danby, Dorset, Landgrove, Mount Tabor, Peru)
Rep. James Condon (Colchester)
Rep. Kesha Ram (Burlington)
Rep. Carolyn Branagan (Georgia)
Rep. William Johnson (Canaan), 277-8329
Rep. Alison Clarkson (Plymouth, Reading, Woodstock)
Rep. James Masland (Norwich, Sharon, Strafford, Thetford)
785-4146; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
News From Child Care Aware in Washington DC
Congress is home for a two week Passover/Easter recess. Before Members left, the House sent a stopgap spending bill for the remainder of FY2013 (H.R. 933) to the President for signature, and both chambers passed their separate (and very different) FY2014 budget resolutions.
As proposals to weaken SNAP continue, take this recess as an opportunity to push back on the proposed cuts and tell Congress that #SNAPworks!
Where Did Congress Leave Things?
Continuing Resolution (CR) for FY2013
On Thursday, March 21st, the House passed a stopgap spending bill (H.R. 933), previously passed by the Senate, by a vote of 318-109 to fund the government through the remainder of FY2013. The bill includes provisions from five full-year spending bills, including Agriculture. It keeps existing spending caps in place and does not replace the sequester (which went into effect March 1). While still subject to the sequester, it is likely that WIC will be able to manage through the rest of the fiscal year without cutting any participants due to the new funding allocation, WIC contingency funds, unspent SNAP transfer funds carried over from the previous year, and unspent recovered funds available for reallocation.
FY2014 Budget Resolutions
Each chamber passed its own FY2014 budget resolution before leaving town. The House budget resolution, which converts SNAP into a block grant program and drastically cuts program spending, passed on a near party line vote (221-207). Follow this link to FRAC’s statement on Chairman Ryan’s FY2014 Budget. Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray’s budget proposal passed by a vote of 50-49, and generally protects SNAP and other safety net programs from cuts. Since the budget resolutions are drastically different, it is unlikely both chambers will come to agreement on a joint budget resolution.
The President is expected to release his budget on April 8th.
Just Released: 2012 Child Care Market Rate Survey Report
ACTION ALERT- Contact your representatives and ask them not to support imposing life time limits on Reach Up Benefits