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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: email@example.com.
Areas of Focus
DECAL Oversight and Services to FCCLH
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
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.
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
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).
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.
2. Family Child Care Business Skills and Supports
A family child care provider is a child care teacher, a program manager, and a small business owner combined into one role. For the benefit of the child, the provider must understand brain development, child development concepts and practice as well as health and safety issues. For the survival of the business, the provider must understand marketing, financial management, budgets, record keeping and taxes, parent communication and many other business related topics. By the time the provider receives a license, she (or he) needs to be well prepared in both areas and will need ongoing training or mentoring in both areas. PFCCAG has a special focus on business skills and supports needed by providers and considers it essential to the survival of providers.
PFCCAG Actions. PFCCAG includes business management topics in our statewide conferences. The nation’s leading expert on the business of family child care is Tom Copeland. Tom has several publications, offers webinars, and speaks at conferences. Tom was keynoter at our statewide conference in 2016 and we continue to rely on him for information and advice. Tom’s website is: https:// tomcopelandblog.com.
Business Accident and Liability Insurance. It is important for providers to obtain accident and liability insurance for their business. PFCCAG works to explain the rationale for purchasing this type insurance, discuss ins and outs of various policies, and identifies sources of reliable and affordable insurance. We encourage insurance providers to exhibit at our conferences and town hall meetings and thank Assure Child Care, Farmers Insurance, and Markel for sponsorship and other forms of support.
Quality Care for Children (QCC) ECE Business Support Project.
Background. QCC and DECAL have ongoing discussions about business support needs of centers and FCC homes. In March 2018, the DECAL research staff surveyed center directors and providers to “map the business needs of child care providers, map the available and existing resources, identify gaps, strengthen & connect existing resources, & develop new resources”. Of 1411 responses, 506 were FCCLH providers which is a very high response rate. There are many interesting results including:
Of 504 providers answering the question, 15 were in business less than a year, 22 for 1-2 years, 29 for 3-5 years, 58 for 5-10 years and 380 for more than 10 years.
When asked “Would you be interested in receiving additional training and/or support in any of the following areas? (Select all that apply), 140 said developing a business plan, 75 said human resources/ managing staff, 138 said financing, 110 said marketing, 116 said financial management,161 said record keeping, 89 said payroll and labor law, and 171 said taxes.
The survey convinced DECAL to fund QCC to create the QCC ECE Business Support Project. The project is built on the concept of “Shared Services”. QCC invited PFCCAG to consult on the project and publicize the project to our members as well as other providers. The project has several components and each is proving useful. They are:
Provider Resource Hub (PRH). The PRH is an online service dedicated to ensuring providers long-term survival by strengthening provider business operations and program for children and parents. PRH members receive support with a broad array of administrative templates, finance and budgeting tools, business and marketing trainings, along with discounts on classroom and business supplies from select vendors. There is an “FCC Toolkit” button on the home page which takes providers to all the content related to their work. PFCCAG members may join PRH for FREE, a $29 saving (see information on PFCCAG website).
Dollars and Sense Course. Patricia Sullivant developed a course addressing budgeting and business skills. Among the many topics taught are Communication: building the basic principal of assertive conversation and conflict resolution, Business: sharing of contracts and building business plans; refine record keeping; cash flow plan; income statement; and balance sheet. She has taught the course twice in 2019.
FCC Marketing and Business Support Cohort. The Cohort addresses similar content to the Dollars and Sense course but with special emphasis on developing a marketing plan for each provide. Two cohort groups were established in 2019, one led by Monique Reynolds and the other by Laura Newman. Participants in the cohort are visited by Monique or Laura to get the process started and receive much individualized help.
Financial and Recordkeeping Software. QCC and other business experts believe providers will need to use various ways to automate their management work. QCC staff are working with PFCCAG as well as provider groups in other parts of the country, to identify useful business management software and hardware options
FCC Marketing and Communication Plan. The project is developing a marketing plan to educate parents and the general public about the benefits of using FCC.
Supply and Equipment Discounts PFCCAG recognizes that starting and operating an FCC home is sometimes costly. But experienced providers are experts in delivering high quality care while maintaining control of expenses. PFCCAG seeks to pool the wisdom of providers about sources of inexpensive equipment and supplies so that both new and experienced providers can benefit. We support this goal by negotiating group discounts for members and sharing information about sources of inexpensive but quality supplies and equipment.
Business Loans/Grants. Another approach to helping providers get started or to meet a large facility expense is to provide a low cost or no cost loan/grant to the provider. DECAL raised funds and made equipment grants to providers as part of the QR project and there are a few examples of Shared Services projects in other states which include loans grants to providers. PFCCAG is interested in establishing a loan/grant program as is QCC. This is a long range goal of the Public Policy Committee. Anyone interested in working on this goal should contact Joe Perreault.
3. Actions to Reverse the Decline in the Number of Family Child Care Learning Homes
The number of licensed FCC providers is declining rapidly both nationally and in GA and the number of providers obtaining a license is not enough to replace the ones leaving the profession. Documentation of the decline in GA is below.
There are many reasons providers are leaving the field such as confusion or frustration with licensing requirements, low enrollment, lack of benefits, low pay, isolation, or just plain retirement. PFCCAG has a strong commitment to reverse the decline.
PFCCAG Actions. We first called attention to the decline in 2015 when we issued a position paper describing the problem and proposed several actions to reverse the decline (see below).
PFCCAG Position Paper #1 Serious Decline 10-1-15
The position paper called upon DECAL to address the impact of the credential degree prerequisite which they have not done through the waiver/variance option described above (see Professional Development Requirements and Opportunities section above).
The paper called for DECAL to revise the process for offering the Licensing Orientation Meetings (LOM) for applicants so this required training was more widely available. DECAL made this change.
The paper also addressed the need for CCR&Rs to provide training and consultation to applicants and new providers which DECAL removed from CCR&R contracts (see Child Care Resource & Referral Programs (CCR&Rs section above). DECAL has not agreed to reinstitute this task and PFCCAG continues to advocate for this policy.
There are other positions and strategies PFCCAG takes to reverse the decline as well. We are strong advocates that Staffed Family Child Care Networks are needed and should be in every DECAL region (see CAPS Policies and Operation/CCDF Plan section above), when possible, we attend LOM trainings and offer information, we tell applicants about the start-up and business information available on the PRH site, and are developing handouts on some GA specific topics which will be available on the PFCCAG website.
In January 2020, PFCCAG completed an analysis of the causes of the decline and a proposed comprehensive plan to reverse the decline over the next five years. This initiative continues despite the new imposing challenges caused by the COVID 19 Pandemic. The plan is here: PFCCAG Comprehensive Plan to Address the Decline of Family Child Care Learning Homes in Georgia
4. Local Government &-Property Owner Barriers to Operation (FCC Marathon Project)
(NAFCC Presentation, July 2020: Strategies to Address Local Barriers to Family Child Care Homes: Zoning, Landlords, HOAs, & More
Local government and property owner barriers to starting and operating a FCC home is a substantial and nearly intractable problem. PFCCAG and partner organizations devote much attention to addressing these barriers.
Local Government. Cities and Countries can intentionally or unintentionally prevent family child care (FCC) from starting or operating by:
Creating Land Use Plans which fail to recognize the need for child care.
Creating Zoning requirements related to FCC which:
Are unclear where FCC is addressed (Business Section or Home Based Business Section, or Child Care section or other).
Confuse the larger nature of a child care center with the small residential character of FCC homes.
Prohibit FCC in residential areas (e.g. in multifamily units or in specific zones).
Create inappropriate restrictions on the FCC program in the home (e.g. # of parking spaces unrealistically high, limits on amount of floor space which can be used).
Creating a Zoning process which is:
“One size fits all” making no distinction between a large property development and a single residential request (e.g. floor plan must be drawn by architect).
Long and drawn out requiring many levels of hearings.
Costly based on high application fees and other costs to furnish supporting documents.
In other ways makes it impractical to open.
Creating Business Permit requirements which are complicated and costly.
Creating Fire Safety requirements which conflict or exceed state child care licensing.
Creating Health Department requirements which conflict or exceed state child care licensing.
Landowners. Landowners can intentionally or unintentionally prevent family child care (FCC) from starting or operating by
Landowners can prohibit tenants in rental units from operating a family child care home.
Landowners in neighborhoods with homeowner associations can prohibit owners from operating a family child care home.
PFCCAG Actions. Beginning in 2016, PFCCA began meeting with community and advocacy organizations who have concerns about local barriers.
FCC Marathon Project Established. A coalition was formed which is called the FCC Marathon Project. Initial coalition partners are CDF-Action, PFCCAG, QCC, and United Way of Greater Atlanta. In 2019, the organization 9to5 joined the coalition. The goal of the FCC Marathon project is to: Smooth and shorten the race to provide high quality family child care at the neighborhood level by addressing local government policies creating cost, time and regulatory roadblocks. Our motto is: “It should not be a marathon uphill all the way.”
DeKalb County GA as Pilot. The project initially decided to focus on a single county and, cities within the county, in order to identify specific issues and test strategies for addressing both process and policy issues. We selected DeKalb County GA the cities of Clarkston, Lithonia, and Stone Mountain in DeKalb as well as the “Unincorporated” DeKalb area. The project looked at government planning and zoning sections of these governments, talked to planning and zoning staff and worked with provider applicants going through the process.
Our primary focus was unincorporated DeKalb. We mapped out steps involved in complying with the zoning ordinance and likely timeline for completing the steps. Although each county or city is different, the resulting document can serve as a template for reviewing process and time line issues in other communities (see below).
Local Barriers Tracking-Unincorporated DeKalb County Process 7-15-18
City of Clarkston Success Story. Our partner, CDF Action has a special interest in Clarkston and the possibility of helping recent immigrants and refugees become providers. Roberta Malavenda, CDF Action discovered Clarkston’s zoning ordinance had a provision prohibiting family child care and set out to change the ordinance. And in 2019, she succeeded! Instead of prohibiting family child care it is now “expressly permitted” as a home occupation by the code. This means applicants no longer have to apply for permission or a zoning variance to use their home for family child care purposes.
PFCCAG worked with Roberta and wrote 3 handouts to educate elected officials and planning staff about what is FCC, that FCC is highly regulated through licensing standards and process, and the important role FCC plays for parents, children and neighborhoods (see below).
Family Child Care as a Community Resource 4-2019
PFCCAG Statement on Family Child Care 4-2019
GA Family Child Care Licensing Summary 4-2019
Outreach to FCC Applicants. Applicants for FCCLH licensing must show proof that they comply with zoning and other local requirements (e.g. business permit, Fire Marshall). PFCCAG works with applicants to overcome local barrier problems. We have addressed issues in Johns Creek, unincorporated Gwinnett, Stockbridge and other areas as well as Fire Marshall issues in City of South Fulton. When possible, we attend LOM training and offer help to applicants facing local barrier problems.
Outreach and Coordination with Organizations in Other States. The FCC Marathon Project was initiated after learning about similar efforts in other states. We communicate with these efforts and share ideas. The founding mother of these efforts is the Child Care Law Center (CCLC) in California. They have several publications available for sale most notably A Child Care Advocacy Guide to Land Use Principles and Legal Issues for Family Child Care Providers in California: Housing and Property. They have several free resources on their website (childcarelaw.org) including materials to help a provider, and parents anticipating using her services, prepare for a zoning hearing.
All Our Kin (AOK), a SFCCN in Connecticut, is another resource. AOK shared a report, produced by students at the Yale Law School, which surveys barrier issues nationwide and offers advice on specific CT issues. Most important the report identifies states which passed laws restricting or prohibiting local government from creating requirements for FCC homes than are required by the state child care licensing law (see below). This is an option the FCC Marathon Project will pursue in the future.
AOK-Yale Law School Obstacles to Affordable Care in CT 2-11-19
5. Federal to State Programs.
PFCCAG is not as involved with federal funding, policies, and legislation and we are with these same issues in GA but we recognize that Congress makes critical decisions concerning funding and policies affecting providers in GA. For that reason, we keep track of issues, educate our members, and coordinate with national child advocacy organizations. Currently we are keeping track of:
Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). As of October 2019, the Houses Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 appropriations bill includes an additional $2.4 billion for CCDF while the Senate only includes $25 million. If the house proposal is approved, GA will receive a substantial increase in CAPS funding.
PFCCAG Actions. PFCCA tracks the congressional budgeting and appropriation process for CCDF funds. We alert members to contact their respective congresspersons when appropriate.
Preschool Development Grant (PDG). In December 2018, Georgia was awarded a $2.9 million Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five (PDG B-5) from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education. The funds will be used to design and implement activities to help ensure that Georgia’s children from birth to age 5 have access to high-quality early childhood care and education services and programs. The initial award covers one year, but in the fall of 2020, Georgia will be eligible to compete for additional funding of up to $45 million over three more years. DECAL plans to focus on the following populations: children in poverty, children in foster care, children with disabilities, children experiencing homelessness, children living in rural areas, infants and toddlers and dual language learners.
PFCCAG Actions. PFCCAG followed the legislative process which authorized the PDG process and funding. We have submitted comments to DECAL concerning implementation of the planning process and will support DECAL’s effort to secure additional funding.
Proposed Federal Legislation. Interest in child care is growing among Republican and Democratic legislators and PFCCAG tracks developments. For example, President Trump’s 2020 budget calls for a $1 billion one time only expenditure to improve access to care for underserved populations. Senator Patty Murray, introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act, which amends the Child Care and Development Block Grant, paying for the cost of quality and compensating the child care workforce for their crucial work etc. Presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed a Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act allowing local licensed programs (centers and FCC) to provide access for free to any family that makes less than 200% of the federal poverty line.
PFCCAG Actions. PFCCAG would like to be more involved with proposed federal legislation and keep members informed on these issues. We do a modest job now and will look for ways to increase our work in this area.
6. Non-Traditional Hour (NTH) Care
In November of 2019, PFCCAG along with Quality Care for Children conducted a survey of to investigate NTH demand and services in Georgia's Family Child Care Learning Homes. Twenty-five percent of Georgia's licensed homes responded to the survey. Over 90 percent of survey respondents indicated they had been asked by parents to provide care outside of the standard weekday hours of 7:30 AM to 6:30 PM. Almost the same amount of providers indicated they had at some point provided Non-Traditional Hour care. The full report can be found here.