PUBLIC POLICY

Working for You!

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PUBLIC POLICY

Your Business in Capable Hands

The purpose of the Public Policy Committee is to serve as a strong voice for the needs and concerns of Family Child Care Learning Homes (FCCLHs) in GA.  The committee works with the board to determine priorities.  To that end, the Committee is chartered to research issues, document problems facing providers, survey providers to determine their concerns (as well as seek their ideas for addressing those concerns), monitor DECAL and other state/federal agencies to evaluate policies and programs which effect providers, propose strategies to bring about needed change, and inform members regarding the means and ways they can influence public policy. 

 

Currently there are five broad priorities several of which have sub-priorities.  This webpage is organized around the priorities.  Each priority contains a brief statement of the issue, links to articles and statements made by PFCCAG or other advocates about the issue, and current information. 

 

Updates on public policy issues are included in the PFCCAG board minutes (every two months) and the PFCCAG Newsletter (quarterly).  For the most current information or to get involved, contact the Public Policy Chair, Joe Perreault: E-mail: joeperreault@comcast.net.

 

Areas of Focus

  1. DECAL Oversight and Services to FCCLH

  2. Family Child Care Business Skills and Supports

  3. Actions to Reverse the Decline in the Number of Family Child Care Learning Homes

  4. Local Government &-Property Owner Barriers to Operation (FCC Marathon Project)

  5. Federal to State Programs

1.  DECAL Oversight and Services to FCCLH

 

Bright from the Start Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) is responsible for meeting the child care and early education needs of Georgia's children and their families.  PFCCAG monitors DECAL policies and actions which affect providers.  PFCCAG board members communicate with DECAL in many ways.  We participate in quarterly meetings directly with the DECAL Commissioner, attend quarterly meetings of the DECAL Board, serve on the DECAL Advisory Board, and submit comments on policy issues at public input forums.  

 

Beginning in 2017, PFCCAG sponsors every other year a “Town Hall” meeting so PFCCAG members can talk to staff representing various DECAL programs.  This allows provider members to ask questions or state concerns directly to the DECAL manager responsible for the policy or program.

 

DECAL has many roles with family child care providers.  These include:

 

Child Care Licensing Standards and Practices.  Licensing standards control the way a FCC home is operated.  They can be confusing and controversial but also a beacon showing providers best practices concerning health and safety, parent communication, child development and many other areas.  Application of the standards by licensing workers can be a source of support and guidance or, on occasion, the source of confusion and inconsistent interpretation.  

 

PFCCAG Actions.  PFCCAG encourages providers to voice questions and concerns directly to their licensing worker or up the chain of supervisors.  But we also collect concerns from providers to see if a pattern exists.  Our primary way of addressing these concerns is through the “Town Hall” meeting with DECAL staff held every other year.  In a Town Hall meeting, DECAL managers from several programs, but especially Child Care Services, answer questions from individual providers.

 

Comprehensive Background Checks.  A requirement for some form of provider background check has been a part of licensing requirements for several years but lately requirements have become more complex, involving more types of checks and more individuals associated with the family child care home who are required to complete a check.  This adds burdens for providers related to cost, administrative time, delays in being able to hire an assistant or substitute, and ongoing confusion about requirements.  DECAL’s policies concerning comprehensive background checks is determined or strongly influenced by requirements in the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Act. 

 

PFCCAG Actions.  In 2018, DECAL issued draft and a final revision to the licensing standards to incorporate comprehensive background check requirements consistent with CCDF.  During the public comment period, PFCCAG developed a questionnaire and distributed it to all licensed providers.  Thirty providers responded and their comments were incorporated into our comments.  PFCCAG comments addressed confusion over requirements for family members, temporary overnight visitors and volunteers as well as the cost to providers for completing comprehensive background check.  PFCCAG comments are included here:

 

 

PFCCAG Comments to DECAL RE Proposed CBC Regulation 8-18

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1n52_RXwcjhEzW29vlfZ8yIqF8W0cxcxk/view?usp=sharing

 

CAPS Policies and Operation/CCDF Plan.  The Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) Program is the major program in GA which pays for child care.  CAPS is primarily funded by federal CCDF dollars with some matching GA dollars.  Most CAPS policies are established at the federal level, but DECAL can set some policies. 

 

Eligibility. CAPS is primarily focused on helping low income children have access to high quality care, but within that, there are additional priorities for infant and toddlers, homeless children, children with special needs, children in foster care, and other categories. 

 

Payment Rate.  To be able to serve a low income CAPS eligible child, payment rates must be high enough that a provider can afford to do so.  This is a complicated issue involving market rate surveys conducted by DECAL, decisions to pay a percentage of the market rate, decisions to pay at a higher rate for high priority care needs, and an incentive rate for providers who are Quality Rated (QR).  There is even a “contracted space” arrangement available to centers, but not to providers, which pays a high rate.

 

PFCCAG Actions.  PFCCAG has commented on the overall DECAL plan to use CCDBG funds.  Our testimony emphasized the need for CCR&Rs to offer start-up training and support to new providers and to support existing providers through creation of a Staffed Family Child Care network (SFFCN) in each DECAL Region. PFCCAG comments are included here:

 

Child Care and Development Fund Plan PFCCAG Comments 1-27-16.

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Zk_RoayLIWnz7ZtXFBlZjgC88Hco-Qfq/view?usp=sharing

 

In late 2018, Congress increased the CCDF appropriation and required states to submit revised state plans for use of the money.  PFCCAG again called of CCR&Rs to offer start up training and offered other comments.  PFCCAG comments are included here:

 

DECAL CCDF 2019-2020 Plan PFCCAG Comments 2019

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1T1LSbqEwq543cc4Luis3KJVbIRU6j1FK/view?usp=sharing

 

PFCCAG has also been involved in addressing CAPS policies of concern to providers.  In 2016, we served on the DECAL Advisory Board which reviewed changes to CAPS funding and eligibility.  PFCCAG has continually pushed for the concept that DECAL “contract” with FCC providers for CAPS spaces.  This idea is like a program created by DECAL for centers.  In the center version, centers are guaranteed a specific number of spaces and at a rate higher than any other rate being paid by CAPS.  The center in turn recruits eligible parents and manages eligibility paperwork.  Since the center handles some administrative duties normally handled by DECAL, this justifies the higher rate.  In August, 2019, PFCCAG convened a focus group of QR rated providers to discuss how the “contracted spaces” concept could be applied in family child care.

 

Quality Rated (QR).  PFCCAG recognizes there are mixed feeling about QR in the family child care community.  Some providers embrace QR whole heartedly and others are reluctant to become QR rated.  The division among providers is the subject at many PFCCAG board meetings.  At this point, PFCCAG supports efforts to help providers achieve QR status but also respects concerns of providers who do not wish to be QR rated. 

 

In the “support” category, PFCCAG invites QR staff to present at our conferences and town hall events, we publicize QR in our newsletter, we encourage and applaud members who serve as QR ambassadors, we celebrated when the first program to become QR rated was a FCC provider and when the 1000th program was also a FCC provider.

 

In the “respect concerns” category, we continue to point out that not all providers are willing to be QR rated and ask DECAL and child care advocates to come to grips with that resistance.  Even more important, we are monitoring the CAPS policy which says that by December 31, 2020, any provider serving CAPS children must be QR rated.  

 

Professional Development Requirements and Opportunities.  DECAL establishes education credential requirements, orientation training and yearly training requirements as part of the licensing program.  Through the DECAL Scholars program, providers have an opportunity to receive scholarship support when pursuing a higher education degree.  PFCCAG is involved in all aspect of the DECAL Professional Development program.

 

PFCCAG Actions. First and foremost, PFCCAG raised questions about the licensing requirement which established that a credential or degree is a prerequisite to becoming licensed.  As part of a larger position paper on the decline of licensed providers (see Actions to Reverse the Decline…below), we recommended the credential or degree should remain a requirement but allow providers to obtain the credential or degree after being granted a license.  DECAL agreed to study the effect of the requirement and in September 2016 they established a policy that: 

 

After September 2016, applicants must complete the credential/degree prior to being licensed OR may request a variance allowing six months to enroll in a program of study to obtain one of the educational credentials and a maximum of 24 months from the date permission-to-operate is granted to complete the program and obtain the credential/degree. If already enrolled in such a program, they have eighteen months to complete.

 

The form to request a variance is here:

 

Application for Variance or Waiver Credential-Degree (DECAL).

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1S_unihUbahG3SRpfEK6O_akabimPhvgF/view?usp=sharing

 

It is important that PFCCAG members share information about the variance option and the form with anyone considering becoming a FCCLH. 

 

PFCCAG supports the yearly 10 hour training requirement and coordinates with DECAL to ensure both our statewide conference and town hall events qualify for training credit.  More recently we have submitted comments on changes to licensing requirements concerning orientation training.  We monitor the Georgia Professional Development System (GaPDS) for ease of use and application of training content to family child care settings. 

 

Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).  The CACFP Program is an essential support to most family child care providers and essential to ensure children in family child care homes receive nutritious meals.  PFCCAG works cooperatively with the CACFP sponsors.  We rely on sponsors to share information about federal budget allocations or policy changes with providers in their sponsorship but we advocate for a strong CACFP program nationally. 

 

PFCCAG tracks provider participation in CACFP and are concerned about the sharp decline in providers participating in the CACGP program in GA.  For example, in December 2010, there were 2681 providers submitting meal claims but in May 2019 there were only 1160 providers submitting meal claims.  While not all providers chose to enroll in the CACFP, and we respect their decision not to do so, PFCCAG considers CACFP a “Key Support for Financial Stability and Predictable Income”.  The decline in participation corresponds to the overall decline in licensed providers ((see Actions to Reverse the Decline…below) but is especially important because it directly affects children.

 

State Lottery Funded Preschool Program.   GA’s lottery funded state Pre-K program does not include FCC.  There are 15 state-funded preschool programs where FCC providers can receive funds directly and 21 allow FCC providers to subcontract with a local school district or entity that is able to receive state funds directly (The State of Preschool 2017, National Institute for Early Education Research). 

 

PFCCAG Actions: PFCCAG has argued that FCC providers should be included in the State Lottery Funded Preschool Program.  We discussed this issue with the DECAL Commissioner on several occasions.

 

Child Care Resource & Referral Programs (CCR&Rs).  PFCCAG and most providers consider the six CCR&Rs in GA their most valuable resource.  CCR&Rs manages ALL-GA-KIDS, the statewide childcare referral program, provide training and support to providers to become QR rated, and offer other professional development training and support.  PFCCAG works regularly with Quality Care for Children, co-sponsored our 2018 statewide conference with Child Care R&R of South East Georgia (Savannah Technical College) and is constantly grateful to Julie Phillips, CCR&R of Central East Georgia (Augusta University/ LEAP Learning Partners) who serves as an advisor to the PFCCAG since we were founded.

 

PFCCAG Actions.  PFCCAG endorsed continued funding for CCR&Rs in our comments about the CCDF plan.  Even more important, we opposed the change in DECALs contract with CCR&Rs which removed the task of providing training and consultation to applicants and new providers and redirected the training and consultation to helping providers attain QR.  We are not opposed to CCR&Rs providing help with QR but helping applicants and new providers get started must take place if family child care is to survive.  We made these comments in our comments about the CCDF plan as well.

 

Other DECAL Programs.  DECAL offers several other supports and services to providers including Inclusion Services, Infant-Toddler Program, GELDS, and others. 

 

PFCCAG Actions.  PFCCAG publicizes these programs through board minutes, newsletter, website, and action alert e-mails.  We provide feedback on these programs including a provider perspective.

 

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