Reminder: the final payment for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Child Care Stabilization Grant (which began September 2021 and ends August 2022) will be sent out mid-September 2022.
The Early Childhood Educators Salary Supplemental Program was passed into law by Maine’s Legislature this past session. The passed Bill covers many areas intended to support the child care workforce, including wage supplements. As of September 2022, the workforce wage supplement payments are to be $200 per month with the first payments arriving mid-October 2022.
The Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) is currently developing the complete guidelines for this new program. Once completed they will be issued to all providers. In regards to the wage supplement, FCCAM’s understanding is that family child care providers are being considered “staff” within their program.
Again to eliminate confusion, this Salary Supplemental Program is not an extension of the federally funded APRA Child Care Grant. This is a totally new program funded by the State.
Here’s the initial response: ANY type of emergency disaster drill counts…some options that could be practiced: shelter in place, lost child, simulated relocation (staff, NOT KIDS TRANSPORTED unsafely in cars), severe weather, unknown person/suspicious situation, coming inside due to an emergency, etc.
Here’s the clarification: The language of the Licensing Rule specifies a requirement for 2 evacuation drills in rule SECTION 14. ENVIRONMENT AND SAFETY /Q. Emergency preparedness plan / 2. The Provider must conduct an evacuation drill at least twice a year and the dates must be recorded and be available for review. (Same section for Facility Rule. Q/2 language: The Child Care Facility must conduct an evacuation drill at least twice a year and the dates must be recorded and be available for review. A simulated drill is acceptable.)
The key word is “evacuation“.
Shelter-in-place drills of any kind that do not include evacuation, do not meet the emergency drill needed for rule compliance.
Let’s look at this more:
You already do monthly fire drills with the smoke alarm.
You already have a running log for fire drills.
You need to add 2 noted Evacuation drills to that log.
Reminder: FCC Rule Section 5/A-5: A record of fire drills for the preceding three years must be available for inspection by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Public Safety, State Fire Marshal’s Office, and local fire inspectors.
For fire drills, you use different exits.
Practice any of the other types of safety drills you think would support the children, such as shelter-in-place, reverse evacuation, medical emergency and lost child. Log any Safety Drill you practice.
For evacuation drill:
Simulate it: practice the steps to gather and leave. Use the language specific to evacuation vs fire.
As part of your Emergency Preparedness Plan you should have multiple alternate sites you could evacuate to. It is recommended to have one you can walk to. For a walking site you could actually gather and leave your premises.
You are not required to transport children off the premises. If you do transport children as part of your program, you can practice transporting as part of your drill. If you do not transport, you can practice what loading everyone into a vehicle would be like in an emergency. Simulating this does not put any child in harms way as your vehicle is not running at any point. You just practice loading in, sitting still, and unloading. You could then pretend you are at the safe site and what would you do there?
material from September 2021 Updates for the Child Care Plan for Maine ~~~
FCCAM PLC has pulled sections that we feel providers need to be aware of as they may impact your small business. You can read the complete seven page plan: Child Care Plan for Maine.
“Maine recognizes the importance of quality, accessible, affordable child care to support working families. The benefit of quality child care is multifold – it supports working parents to provide for their families while children benefit educationally, socially, and emotionally from a caring, nurturing environment. From an economic perspective, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston states, “Research demonstrates child care problems lower worker productivity and cost U.S. employers and working parents billions of dollars annually. Furthermore, job stability and family income directly affect a child’s social, physical, and emotional health.” This Child Care Plan for Maine summarizes the system landscape pre-pandemic and the supports implemented to providers and families during the pandemic. Our focus then turns to recovery and the strategies that will be implemented to support Maine families, children, and child care providers toward a sustainable recovery and brighter future. This plan contains updates based on Federal guidance and the State’s disbursement of funds since May.”
Initiatives implemented beginning in state fiscal year 2021:
Providers participating in the Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP):
Receive a weekly stipend of $100 per infant on CCSP.
Receive a 10% quality bump payment for infants and toddlers served through CCSP.
OCFS, in an attempt to boost the recruitment and retention of early child care educators, began:
Covering the cost of licensing fees for both family child care providers and facilities.
Offering several quality awards in partnership with Maine Roads to Quality Professional Development Network (MRTQ PDN) with new Registry member awards, newly licensed mini-grants, moving up a quality level award, reimbursement for the cost of accreditation, and maintaining accreditation mini-grants.
Partnering with Maine Association for the Education of Young Children (AEYC) to create TEACH scholarship program.
OCFS also began efforts to enhance the Child Care Choices website to improve the availability and accessibility of information about providers for families who may be seeking child care.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an immense impact on the national child care system, however the numbers in Maine’s are more positive. “As of September 2021, Maine has 96% of the pre-COVID licensed programs open and operating. In addition, the Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP) has seen a steady increase in total families and children receiving CCSP over the last four months. Currently 3,013 families representing 4,596 children are served by the program.”
Stabilization and support of providers has occurred (and continues) through multiple funding sources:
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, May of 2020, Maine received $10.9 million in CCDBG funding
grants provided directly to providers to cover COVID-19 related costs and build capacity,
providing child care subsidy for essential workers (regardless of income eligibility)
waiving parent fees for low income families receiving traditional CCSP
Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF), August of 2020 the Governor allocated $8.4 million
grants provided reimbursement to providers for COVID-19 related business expenses (through December of 2020 totaled $2,176,464)
Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriation (CRRSA) Act, March of 2021, Maine received $30.5 million in CCDBG funding through CRRSA Act.
OCFS allocated 75% of the funding directly to child care providers through quarterly grants payments. The last payment will be December 2021. Remaining funds were used to expand professional development for providers through the Maine Roads to Quality (MRTQ) Professional Development Network (PDN) system, provide mental health and social emotional learning support to children and providers through the Early Childhood Consultation Program (ECCP), waiving copayments for CCSP families through 9/30/22, and reimbursing CCSP providers based on enrollment.
CRRSA funds will also be utilized to establish a Statewide Apprenticeship Program for Child Care Providers, provide Mini-grants and awards for achieving or maintaining accreditation, and/or for completing one of the Maine Credentials (Director, Infant Toddler, Inclusion, Youth Development).
American Rescue Plan Act (ARP), Maine has received an additional $121.9 million through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARP). The ARP child care funds will be broken up into three sections.
Discretionary – $45,752,460
Stabilization Subgrants – $73,176,466
Maine has chosen to use funds to support the entire child care delivery system through short-term stabilization and recovery as well as long-term growth and system improvement (subject to change with guidance from ACF). FCCAM PLC has pulled out some parts of the plan we know will directly impact providers:
ARPA Child Care Stabilization Grants (for all programs offering care as of Sept. 2021, and on an ongoing rolling basis) monthly payments from October 2021 to September 2022.
Waive child care licensing fees for 2 years to support new and existing child care providers
Supply a one-time $2,000 stipend (available from 7/1/21-9/30/23) to newly licensed family child care providers focused on increasing access to child care for families in rural and gap areas.
Waive Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP) parent fees for families at or below 60% of State Median Income to support low income families until 9/30/23
Provide a 35% weekly increase of reimbursement to child care providers who take subsidy and are serving children with special needs
Reimburse CCSP based on enrollment for 2½ years
Translate CCSP materials into identified languages for both families and providers
Increase child care quality payments to 3%, 10%, 15% (per QRIS levels) for 2-years to support an increase in high quality programs
Build child care information system onto Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System CCWIS
Invest in Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) online screening tool for child care providers to screen and refer children to early intervention when delays in development are detected
Provide Second Step curriculum for child care to support social emotional learning
Expand Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) to measure outcomes in child care and incentive program participation with $500 per program
“In addition to the ARPA funds, OCFS will continue to support child care through ongoing efforts, including the infant/toddler stipend, workforce development through the TEACH scholarship, technical assistance through Maine Roads to Quality, and other efforts.”
The Professional Learning Committee continues to review the FCC and Facility Licensing Rules as part of gathering resources to support providers. As part of this review we hit upon the requirement in the staff handbook that requires interpretation for English Language Learners.
This is not an area we have seen providers raising many questions about, but are also not seeing it addressed in policies we are seeing. We are wondering if providers have not picked up on it, as we had not in our previous readings of the Licensing Rule?
The diversity of Maine’s communities, whether urban or rural, continues to grow. This diversity is also being seen in the child care workforce, whether it’s staff or new programs being opened. With community changes providers are seeing the diversity of the children in care changing. The question becomes how we as small business owners address this diversity within our programs. Providing the service of child care we know that working with the child’s family is a major part of that we do. We want our client families to understand we are open to working together. Add in that best business practice tells us we should address our working practices within our policies. The PLC reached out to MRTQ PDN DC Marnie Morneault to discuss concerns of English Language Learners and some of the impact on providers and programs. As part of this discussion Licensing was also asked to clarify if the interpretation requirement was just for staff, as that was the only place we found it clearly required. Their response was that interpretation covered more than staff. It covered our work with children and communication with their parents/legal guardians. With this clarity the PLC felt it was important to provide sample language providers could use in their handbook covering interpretation.
The question became: “How do we make it clear that we welcome diversity and meet interpretation needs for English Language Learners (ELLs)?”
You might also see or be familiar with ELLs being referred to as: limited English proficient (LEP), Dual Language Learners (DLLs), home language, or primary language. In the past English as Second Language (ESL) was commonly used. That has changed with the recognition that many who are learning English already speak several other languages, so English would not be a “second” language.
What is language interpreting and translation?
Language interpreting is the conversion of one spoken language into another, where translation covers written language. Interpreting and translation also apply to the context of signed languages and tactile writing systems like Braille.
Looking beyond the child considering a child’s parents and/or your staff, they may have good conversational fluency in English, but may not be able to understand, discuss or read information proficiently in English. They may be reluctant to request or accept professional interpreting and translation services due to fear of costs, inconvenience, or concerns about confidentiality. We felt these barriers needed to be consider in development of policy language. Providers may already be addressing inclusion within a number of policies around children’s rights, parental communications, their program’s curriculum meeting individual child needs. Through continuing discussion specifically around language, the PLC thought it made sense for providers to add in simple, specific language that clearly mentioned working with English Language Learners. Working with Marnie we have 2 language versions that should meet that need.
If you have your handbook all updated for the new Licensing Rule, you can add this language as an addendum. If you print off your handbook you can now print off this language as a separate sheet and hand it out to parents. If you do your handbook online, it’s easier to make changes in the set-up. Make the change and then send an email with the link, verbally tell and/or note on your parent information board.
English Language Learners Policy (Families):
At ___ childcare we accept learners from all ethnic backgrounds. The primary language we communicate in is ____. If you communicate more comfortably in another language, please let us know. We will make every effort to make our materials and communications accessible for you in your home language. We will also incorporate your child’s language and culture into our visuals and communications as much as possible.
English Language Learners Policy (Staff):
At ____childcare we employ staff from all ethnic backgrounds. The primary language we communicate in is ______. If you communicate more comfortably in another language, please let us know. We will make every effort to make our materials and communications accessible for you in your home language.
Additional resources for providers looking for more information on this topic:
We are sharing some of the recent work of the joint Family Child Care Association of Maine (FCCAM) and MaineAEYC Public Policy Committee. In December, a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package deal was reached. As part of this deal $10 billion is to be provided for the child care industry. Maine will be receiving their portion of those funds through the Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG). The Joint Public Policy Committee drafted recommendations which were submitted to DHHS and OCFS for consideration in how these funds could best support the child care system and it’s workforce in Maine.
In December, federal lawmakers reached a deal on a $900 billion Covid-19 pandemic relief package that provides $10 billion in funding for the child care industry. Maine will be receiving a portion of those funds through the Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG). and the worked with our Public Policy Committee members to draft recommendations to submit to DHHS and OCFS for consideration of the use of funds. Here is a copy of our joint recommendations.
As soon as we hear how funds will be used we will spread the word.
Discussions continue around legally providing care within your home in Maine. Within these discussions the resources provided to add to the discussion have not all been timely. Part of the mission of the Family Child Care Association of Maine is to provide timely and accurate information when questions are raised around family child care. In our effort to support all legally operating family child care providers in Maine we reached out to licensing to get an answer that is up to date. We also want to clearly state that FCCAM feels that all legal in-home care options are an important part of the child care system in Maine.
Here is the information we received:
A family child care provider can care for up to 2 children not living in the home and remain unlicensed. Maine Statute says a person can care for their own children living in their home and up to 2 children not living in their home for compensation and not be required to be licensed. Once an individual cares for 3 or more children not living in their home they require licensure.
FCCAM’s understanding is that an individual can have more than 2 children under contract for care, but only 2 can be receiving care within the home at the same time. For those looking at families wanting part-time care this can be important. This works the same way for licensed providers who provide care for clients needing part-time. It about juggling multiple children within the same careslot, so you are always within legal child/adult ratio.
Individuals providing care for up to 2 children are legal, but are not really labeled within the system by licensing unless they accept subsidy payments.
An individual providing care to up to 2 children not living in their home and accepting subsidy payments for one or both of those children, is referred to as a license-exempt (LE) provider by the state.
While the state does not label individual providers not accepting subsidy payments, FCCAM encourages any individual that is operating legally without needing to be licensed to refer to themselves as license-exempted. You are operating legally under state statutes. You are not licensed because you do not need to be. You are not operating illegally as an unlicensed provider caring for 3 or more children (not your own) at the same time.
FCCAM asked specifically about when the need for background checks and monitoring came into play for license-exempt providers.
Under the most recent Reauthorization of the Block Grant, a license-exempt (LE) provider that receives subsidy funds does have to complete Health and Safety training, needs to have background checks done and now needs to have a monitoring inspection annually to make sure they are meeting the basic health and safety requirements. There are more requirements now then there used to be, these are just a few of them.
An individual can reach out to the Child Care Subsidy Program to get a copy of the checklist that they send out to LE providers providing details of what is now required.
The Health and Safety training is a 6 hr training you can access through Maine Roads to Quality (MRTQ). You will need to be on the registry for that. You can find out how to access from this post.
Monitoring inspections are now posted for the public to see as part of the Child Care Choices site.