LD 222 Discussion Continues…….

(*updated 2/12/19 with FCCAM testimony)

While the original intent of LD 222 was to stop all child care programs from charging families when they are closed, the bill as it will be heard on Feb 13th covers programs providing subsidized care. FCCAM has not been able to confirm if there will be any amendments to LD 222, or if the bill will be pulled.

FCCAM has concerns with any bill that would control the right of a provider to develop their own fee structure. We will be providing written testimony for the Feb. 13th public hearing opposing LD 222.

For those providing subsidized care they know first hand the negative impact this bill would have. For those who do not provide subsidized care FCCAM’s Public Policy Committee would like to provide you with some additional information around what the impact will be to your peers.

We start the search on the Maine’s Child Care Subsidy Program home page. Scrolling down to access the Child Care Subsidy Program Rules. 

Section 9 explains how payment is made, however there is additional information in earlier sections that relate to payment, so let’s start there:

2.02.3 Subsidy is approved for enrollment hours as specified in Section 9, Enrollment, and cannot exceed fifty (50) hours per week without prior approval of the Department.
2.03 The subsidy payment is set by the Department based on a biennial Market Rate Survey required by federal law (45 CFR 98.42). The Sliding Fee Scale is determined by the Department adjusted for family size and income. Together the Parent fee and the Subsidy payment may not exceed the Child Care Provider’s rate for their other clients for comparable care and may not exceed the Market Rate. Together they constitute payment to the provider for Child Care Services. See Standard 7.07, Special Child Care Provider Fees

3.06 Students Needing Child Care
3.06.1 The eligibility for services will continue uninterrupted for a child of a Student during a normal summer vacation period (about 15 weeks). Student must be enrolled for benefits to continue.
3.06.2 Child Care Subsidy Services will continue following a scheduled break in attendance upon receipt of an updated school schedule and documentation of satisfactory progress and attendance by the Student. See Standard 4.05.3.
3.06.3 It is the Student’s responsibility:
a. To recruit a Child Care Provider who is willing to forego
payment for a summer vacation period
when the Student is
neither Employed nor looking for work; or
b. To recruit a new Child Care Provider upon his or her return to school,
c. To contact DHHS thirty (30) calendar days prior to resuming
enrollment to re-determine eligibility and rewrite or update the
subsidy agreement.

4.01.2 Per Diem Employment
Income eligible parent who is employed in the public or private
sector on a per diem basis and is not self-employed may be eligible for child care subsidy if the following criteria are met:
a. The Parent is responsible to recruit a Child Care Provider who
is willing to forgo payment until pay stubs verifying the hours worked have been submitted
to the Department.
b. The Parent must submit pay stubs to the Department for all
hours requesting Child Care Subsidy on a biweekly basis.

Failure to do so will result in nonpayment of child care
subsidy.

7.06.6 The agreed upon maximum payment to the Child Care Provider for Child Care Subsidy will:
a. Be the total of the Subsidy payment and the Parent fee.
b. Will not exceed the Department established Market Rate or the Child Care Provider’s rate, whichever is less.
c. Will not exceed the rate charged to the Child Care Provider’s other Parents for equivalent Child Care Services.

8.06.2 Billing Period
Child Care Providers will bill the Department on a biweekly basis
as agreed upon by the Department and the Child Care Provider.
The billing period will be stipulated in the Provider Agreement.
8.06.3 Payment Timing
When the Child Care Provider’s bill is correctly completed and
submitted to the Department within the time frame stipulated in the Provider Agreement, the Department will pay the Child Care
Provider within ten (10) working days of receiving the Child Care
Provider’s request for payment.

Now for Section 9.

9.01.2 The Department will reimburse providers for Child Care Services based on the number of hours the Parent qualifies for subsidy and the number of hours the child is in care.

Currently payment is made only for hours of direct care. This payment structure is one barrier to more providers accepting clients using subsidy.

9.02.5 In order to maintain continuity of Child Care Services, and if it is the established practice of a licensed or certified Child Care Provider to charge the general public for such periods of time, the Department will pay the provider for holidays, and up to one week of provider vacation time. 

This language is clear that 1 week of vacation care will be covered, as well as, paid holidays that are part of the established practice of the provider. Subsidy cannot be charged if the general public client is not.

If a provider takes additional vacation weeks they cannot charge subsidy families for that care. They can charge their general public client. Providers may be closed for vacation, but they often have still have business expenses. Providers can chose to receive payment 52 weeks a year or change their fee structure to have vacation week fees instead divided over the non-vacation weeks. For providers accepting subsidy, if child is not in care they do not get paid and cannot adjust their rates. Rates are set by the state for each county.

So, how does FCCAM see this bill impacting providers?

If LD 222 is passed as written, providers who take families receiving subsidy support would not get paid for currently accepted holidays and any week of vacation they take. This would be an added financial burden on providers. Subsidized care payments are already paid at a lower percentage than a counties market rate (average). Family child care providers are working to provide financial support to their families. They cannot absorb additional income lose. For subsidy there is no option to adjust rates.

FCCAM sees LD 222 providing an additional barrier for families receiving subsidy finding quality child care. Currently, there are not enough providers willing to provide services for families receiving subsidy because of both payment level, but also just dealing with the system in general.

FCCAM believes all families entering into a contract with a child care provider should be made aware of paid holidays, health days and any vacation time a provider will be taking. Providers should have a written policy with their complete fee structure that is shared with families as part of the registration process. It is then up to the family to decide if they are able to work with the provider’s schedule and fee structure.

FCCAM questions the legality of the original intent of LD 222 to stop child care providers from collecting payment from any family when said provider is unavailable to provide care.

FCCAM will be providing written testimony for the public hearing on Feb 13, 2019 opposing LD 222. FCCAM has tried to provide basic information, through this site, to help providers make their own decision on the value of LD 222. The Public Policy Committee strongly encourages all family child care providers to add their voice by sending in personal testimony.

We have included a link to a general template for written testimony to the Health and Human Services Committee.

Template for written testimony for a Public Hearing

Your testimony can be emailed as an attachment (word or pdf) to: Rowland E. Robinson, Health and Human Services Committee Clerk, rowland.robinson@legislature.maine.gov