Licensing Rule Testimony

FCCAM’s Public Policy Committee would like to share the letter of testimony we sent to be included in the public record in regards to the proposed Licensing Rule.

The Public Policy Committee held multiple conference calls over the past few weeks following reception of the email sent to all certified family child care providers from Licensing. During these calls emails provided by members, the quick survey responses with comments, as well as, research on national standards were discussed in detail. With the diversity of providers in Maine and our membership there are strong thoughts around a number of the proposed changes. The PPC tried to formulate the testimony to be balanced in level of response, while keeping in mind these are minimum health/safety standards.

 

Testimony of Tammy Dwyer

On Behalf of the Family Child Care Association of Maine

Regarding Rule for the Licensing of Family Child Care Providers (10-148 C.M.R., Ch. 33)

May 8, 2017

Representatives of the Child Care Licensing Unit, Maine of the Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Environmental and Community Health, and Children’s Licensing and Investigation Services, I am Tammy Dwyer and I represent the Family Child Care Association of Maine (FCCAM). Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony from FCCAM regarding the Rule for the Licensing of Family Child Care Providers (10-148 C.M.R., Ch. 33).

As part of preparing to provide testimony on this proposed Rule for Licensing of Family Child Care Providers, FCCAM gathered information through a survey made available to both our members and family child care providers at large. While FCCAM took the survey responses into consideration in preparing our testimony, our goal to achieve the highest quality of care in Maine’s diverse legal family child care homes remains a key guiding point.

FCCAM understands this Rule, through the repealing and replacing of the Rules for the Certification of Family Child Care Providers (effective July 1, 2009), will refocus, clarify and streamline minimum health and safety standards for the licensing of family child care providers. We agree the licensing rule needs to be clear for both licensees and licensing specialists, so it is applied equally across programs. We appreciate the effort to streamline and clarify minimum requirements for license applications and the Department’s inspection and investigation procedures.

This Rule is proposing to require Emergency Preparedness Plans, yet changing the currently required monthly fire drills to “at least every other month”. FCCAM is concerned that the proposed changing of fire drills to every other month is a step backwards in regards to the health and safety of children. Monthly practice of safety drills, that should now include fire exit, evacuation drills and reverse drills, builds knowledge and comfort for children, families and providers making evacuation routine, that should it be needed in an emergency, everyone is prepared to act quickly.

FCCAM supports the need for providers to have written policy detailing how they will handle decisions made within their private business that directly impact the health and safety of children and families. With the current research on social emotional development of young children FCCAM believes it is timely to require licensees to have language within their Handbook regarding child guidance practices and expulsion policy. We would not support any suggestion that the state could require a provider to provide care for a child or family at the state’s directive. Our small businesses have the right to accept clients as we chose as long as the American Disabilities Act is followed.

The proposed language in Section 8: Staff-Child Ratios and Supervision, 3 (a-b), allows that when the licensee is the parent of the child, the child is not counted in staff-child ratio. FCCAM strongly feels this will negatively impact the health and safety of all children in care, as well as the quality of program. We recommend that non-school-age children of licensees are included in staff-child ratio , as currently practiced under July 2009 Rules for the Certification of Family Child Care Providers.

An example which reflects our concern: currently a licensee has a license capacity of 6, yet because she has only children under 2 in care she can only have 4 children in care following the staff/child ratio of 1 / 4. With the proposed change, if she had 2 children of her own under 2, she could have 6 children under 2 in care, as her licensed capacity is 6. Is the health and safety of children served by having 6 children under 2 in the care of 1 adult?

FCCAM recognizes the recommendations from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): shock-absorbing materials should extend at least 6 feet beyond all sides of stationary equipment; shock-absorbing materials around swings should extend in back and in front, two times the height of the suspension bar; and play equipment should be located at least 6 feet from any structure or obstacle, such as a house, fence, sheds, trees or poles.

In regards to Section 14: Environment and Safety, E (2c) and E (3c), many licensees are concerned that while this makes sense for climbers, swings, slides, and teeter totters, it becomes cumbersome for low, non-climbing items like sandboxes, water tables, small moveable playhouses. Many providers have low structure items against fences or house walls to save open space for active play and a clearer vision line for supervision of children at play. Sandboxes are often tucked under climbing play structures. The corner poles of the structure have to be there, but do not impede movement or safety.

With “equipment” being undefined, these sections allow for individual interpretation. FCCAM strongly encourages that E (2c) be removed.

We would also like to take this time to ask what type of timeline will be used in supporting current licensees as they work to comply with the changes proposed in this Rule?

FCCAM strongly recommends the Department of Health and Human Services use Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds to support licensees in meeting this Rule.

FCCAM serves and acts on the behalf of the needs, rights, and well-being of all of Maine’s young children and their families in family child care. Children have the right to attend quality programs that promote their learning and development. We believe that affordable access for all families to quality care for all children is essential. Quality programs promote families’ self-sufficiency helping them to better provide for the well-being of their children.

Thank you for your time and attention.