Maine’s Early Childhood Day of Action, February 27th

On Feb. 28th, the Health and Human Services Joint Committee will hold another work session to continue discussion on a wide range of bills regarding child care.

These bills have direct impact on family child cares. FCCAM understands that reactions to the various bills will be as diverse as Maine’s fcc providers are. When FCCAM provides testimony on any bill we do so with consideration of the health and safety of children, maintaining rights as small business owners and maintaining the standards of quality Maine has already reached. We encourage all fcc providers to inform themselves of what the bills under current consideration are.

Some of these bills have been under discussion both within FCCAM’s Public Policy Committee and in joint discussions with MaineAEYC for well over a year. There is a lot to take in, but we feel it is very important for fcc providers to become informed and lend their voice to the discussion. Early childhood educators, parents of young children, owners of child care centers, early childhood advocates, and concerned Mainers as all being asked to contact members of the Health and Human Services Committee. In this post you will find links to all the bills posted for the 2/28 work session (as of posting), a summary and the complete language of the bill, along with notice if FCCAM provided written testimony.

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We would like to start with LD 1661. This bill provides for the legislative review of the Rule Relating to the Licensing of Family Child Care Providers that went into effect 9/20/17. Major changes went in under “Emergency Rule” and need final review and adoption by the legislature.

Many fcc providers have been negatively impacted by the section of the newest FCC Licensing Rule (9/20/17) that addressed Outside Play Areas. Providers made concerns known and DHHS addressed this by proposing an amendment to LD 1661 in regards to Outside Play Areas on 1/17/18 in a public hearing before the Joint Health and Human Services Committee. Here is the section of that DHHS testimony:

“Since the provisional adoption of the Rule, on September 20, 2017, the Department has received speci c feedback regarding Section l4 (E) Outdoor play areas. After applying signi cant analysis to this section of the provisionally adopted rule, the Department offers the following recommendations for amendment. The proposed removal of evidence-based measurable dimensions could re-introduce variation and subjectivity in the rule when determining compliance with these requirements. However, the proposed changes do not diminish the intent of the rule which is to prevent children from sustaining injuries in play areas. It is a provider’s responsibility to keep children safe while in their care.”

Here is the offered amendment on Outdoor play areas:

Complete 1/17/18 testimony by DHHS 

FCCAM has provided testimony to the Joint Committee encouraging them to move ahead with the process sending LD 1661 to the legislature for adoption of the FCC Licensing Rule  with the proposed amendments, with support out of committee.

LD 1177 – This bill establishes the Child Care Appeal Review Panel to review disputes related to the licensing and certification of child care facilities, family child care providers and nursery schools, including revocations, suspensions, denials, demotions to conditional status, rule compliance issues and denials of requests for alternative compliance methods but not including child abuse and neglect investigations.

FCCAM has provided joint testimony with MaineAEYC in support of this bill. While there is an appeal process within the FCC Licensing Rule, we believe there is a need for a more neutral process. The proposed panel structure would remove the Department that the appeal is against, from being the one deciding the outcome of the appeal. 

LD 1748FCCAM does not support this bill. We feel LD 1661 is better for fcc providers in Maine at this time. Example of areas of concern:

  • reverting the age back to 30 months from the current 2 yrs. Currently we align with the ratios and ages for small facilities. Changing back puts fcc at a stricter ratio by age again.
  • adding back section specifically for Parent Rights. FCCAM finds the new language to more objectively cover the same ideals.
  • removal of allowing 16 year old providers to work under supervision and be counted in staff/child ratios. Moves it back to 18 yrs. old

LD 1423 and LD 1474 – FCCAM finds both bills to be a mixed bag of changes to regulations. With both bills containing sections that are seen as steps backwards in regards to safety of children, FCCAM does not support either of these bills. Example: In LD 1474, subsidy changes can be supported, but the staff/child ratios are concerning.

  • one staff person to 6 infants up to 12 months of age with a maximum of 10 children in the room;
  • one staff person to 7 children 12 to 24 months of age with a maximum of 12 children in the room;
  • one staff person to 12 children 24 to 36 months of age with a maximum of 20 children in the room;
  • one staff person to 18 children 36 months to 4 years of age with a maximum of 30 children in the room;
  • one staff person to 20 children 4 to 5 years of age with a maximum of 36 children in the room;
  • one staff person to 25 children 5 years of age and older with no maximum for children in the room.
  • The ratio for children of mixed ages should be an average of the groups for staff-child ratios;

LD 274FCCAM provided joint testimony in support of this bill in April 2017. This bill includes suggestions from a work committee on adoption of the criminal background check including fingerprinting. The work on this included clarification on unsupervised access to children.

LD 383 – This bill is in draft form. From information provided by the bill sponsor during previous hearing this bill would be very geared to infant care with higher subsidy rates. There would also be development of  regional community-based networks comprised of family child care providers. Without clear language FCCAM remains neutral, but supports the direction of this bill.

LD 561 – This bill removes the requirement for criminal background checks. FCCAM does not support this. Testimony was provided in favor of LD 274 supporting background checks including fingerprints with an understanding around unsupervised care. The CCDF (block grants) requires criminal background checks including fingerprints. CCDF provides monies that are very beneficial for providers and families serving.

LD 1148 – This bill provides that the State may not prohibit the expulsion compel the attendance of a child at an independently operated, privately owned child care facility except to remedy unlawful discrimination under the Maine Human Rights Act. FCCAM offered testimony that this bill was not necessary, as the current licensing Rule addresses it through requiring providers to have a written policy. DHHS does not tell providers what that policy has to say.

While it is difficult to attend legislative work sessions in person it is important to send emails expressing your views. We ask you to add your voice by emailing testimony in on Feb. 27th, Maine’s Early Childhood Day of Action.

Here is a template that can be used as is or adapted:

Distinguished members of the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services, my name is ______. I own ______________ in  ________, Maine. I provide care for _(type of program / ages of children in care / # of children)_.

Through the Family Child Care Association of Maine (FCCAM), I have been informed that you are holding a work session on Feb. 28, 2018 for a group of bills that will impact child care in Maine.

Child Care providers and families are both aware that Maine has a shortage of child care slots. While we need to find ways to increase availability of care slots, we need to do so without stripping away safety requirements. Families searching for child care should have the confidence a license can provide that their children will be safe from hazards, people who might harm them, and protected from an overcrowded environment where their needs cannot be met. Sensible policies contribute to our state by supporting the children in care, their families and the early childhood workforce.

I ask that you regard my work with children and families with respect and appreciation.

Please support:

  • Review and adoption of the Family Child Care Licensing Rule (9/20/17) with DHHS Amendments (LD1661)
  • The creation of an appeals process for child care providers (LD 1177)
  • Proposals that increase access and quality for families with young children (LD 383)
  • Fingerprinting as part of comprehensive background checks for all early childhood educators (LD 274)

Please reject:

  • Proposals that put young children at risk, remove important health and safety requirements, and lower the quality of early care and education in Maine. (LD 765, LD 1423, LD 1474)
  • Proposal that replaces major parts the FCC Licensing Rule that fcc providers are already complying with. (LD1748)

I thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with the committee on these important bills through written testimony, as I am actively providing child care at the time of the work session, and thus not able to provide testimony in person.

(name / address / any contact number / program website/ educational info)

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Emails can be sent to all current members of the Joint Health and Human Service Committee by using the following emails:

sen.eric.brakey@gmail.com; senatorhamp@gmail.com;
Ben.Chipman@legislature.maine.gov; patty.hymanson@aol.com;
Anne.Perry@legislature.maine.gov; Jay.McCreight@legislature.maine.gov;
Colleen.Madigan@legislature.maine.gov; Dale.Denno@legislature.maine.gov;
Jennifer.Parker@legislature.maine.gov;
Deborah.Sanderson@legislature.maine.gov;
Richard.Malaby@legislature.maine.gov; Frances.Head@legislature.maine.gov;
Paul.Chace@legislature.maine.gov
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FCCAM’s Public Policy committee is happy to answer any questions. Contact us: fccamaine@gmail.com.