The Professional Learning Committee recently met with Licensing Supervisors, Pattie Collins and Jennifer Welch. This meeting was a chance to ask about the process behind the FCC Licensing Rule and to get clarification on regulations that have been raising questions among providers old and new.
We started out passing along some simple editing notes providers had shared with us:
- Section 8/Training A(10): “Transportation of Children (if the individual will be responsible for the transportation of children; required biannually thereafter)
This training is required every 2 years, not twice a year. “biannually” is an editing error and will be corrected in the final printing.
- Section 2-G misnumbering after 8
We pointed out our note on this in the “Licensing Rule”. They were aware of this and noted it was listed for correction.
Then we asked for clarification around the changes for immunizations. The changes having to do with immunizations are driven by the new Maine Vaccine Exemptions Law which requires all DOE and DHHS rules to be amended to fit under this law in regards to only medical exemptions being acceptable for lack of immunization by Sept 1, 2021. This exemption applies to both children attending child care and adults providing child care. So yes,
- All children need to have complete immunization records on file, even school-age.
- All adults providing care need to be immunized and their records also on file.
Maine Child Care Immunization Standards
Maine-AAP vaccination exemption form for child care.
“Properly immunized” for adults means Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccination (Tdap) and Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) for those born after 1956.. More information about adult vaccination schedules can be found here: Adult Immunization Schedule by Vaccine and Age Group | CDC
Next we discussed what was meant by a provider handbook for staff vs a manual in Licensing Requirements and Procedures 2:G7. This requirement is causing a lot of anger/frustration among providers that are sole providers and we wanted to be sure the information we have been and will provide is correct.
We shared examples from FCCAM’s “Licensing Rule” and from a provider’s business website. The examples are for a sole provider without staff or volunteers who closes when they cannot provide care. Language samples also covered what would happen if that changes. Individual policies included provider/staff/house member as appropriate when referring to who had responsibility to carry out a policy. What Licensing made clear is that sole providers do not need a separate staff handbook or manual as long as they make it clear to parents that they work alone, they will comply with regulations about staff if that changes, and their policies clearly state who has responsibility to carry out the policy as required in rule.
In reading the Licensing Rule, you will notice that many of the policies listed for the parent handbook and the staff handbook are duplicated. If you have one handbook you need to be sure to have a policy for everything listed for the staff manual as well.
If you have staff and your parent handbook is written in such a way that this policy also applies to staff, you can use your parent handbook. If your current parent handbook does not have the required policies, you can either add the additional policies needed or if you feel the policies are really only meant for employees to see then create a smaller separate handbook for staff.
Again, providers need to be sure to have a policy for everything listed for the staff manual. Policies shared with parents need to be clear about who has responsibility within the policy language. With that a separate manual is not needed.
From a quick review of the Licensing Rule Toolkit, Licensing felt the general format appeared to covering the Rule, Licensing’s responses and FCCAM resources. We also explained that the PLC is taking opportunities to raise awareness of best practices by adding suggestions for providers to add to Rule requirements for items such as the sunscreen policy by including bug spray also.
We shared our inclusion of the spreadsheets for 3 checklists that providers seem to be asking for: Records need / Handbook / and Staff
Licensing informed us that Licensing Specialists are informing fcc providers of the website and the Licensing Rule tool.
Under Section 7(F)(1) The Provider and All Staff Members must have a high school diploma or equivalent, be attending high school, or be enrolled in a General Educational Development (GED) preparation program. This requirement was consistent in Rules prior to 2017, but not in the 2017 Rule. This requirement on education level is not Maine statute, so it is possible to get a waiver.
Licensing wants to be sure that providers are aware that they need to be registered with Maine Roads to Quality and each program must sign up for the Maine Quality Rating System.
The PLC and Licensing then talked about the process that happened for this Rule and should be happening for Rule proposals. There has been a good deal of questioning about provider input and the timeline for this Rule, especially with everything providers have dealt with this past year around COVID.
Let’s start with why Licensing doesn’t answer question about the proposed Rule. Legally, once the public is informed of the proposed Rule Licensing can only take questions during the public comment period through the process in place (email address set up for comments/question) until the Rule is in effect. They cannot respond directly to those questions about the Rule only about the rule making process until after Rule is in effect.
Each Administration can impose additional restrictions on development of rules.
Federal requirements can also impact stakeholder engagement because of shortened or limited timelines.
In building any new Rule outdated requirements need to be removed or adapted to comply with current child care standards.
The Rule is impacted by statutes from across Maine law.
In Maine there are 3 Rules that cover the child care system: FCC, Facility (which will combine Centers and Nursery schools once in effect) and Background Checks. The Background Checks Rule is separate because of how it is covered in state law/statutes.
The best practice is to have Rule revision every couple of years, with ongoing review. The Department goal is to have all Rules – FCC and Facility all align and that all three rules are updated on a regular basis. This would support consistency. Alignment has not been the previous practice.
Our conversation with Licensing was only able to touch on a few items. While we picked the ones raising the most questions, please remember there are many other changes to the Rule as well, and you are best served by reading the Rule.
If you haven’t gotten to 2(G)(8 and 10), please be aware you need a new policy around mandated reporting. Just listing you are a mandated reporter is no longer enough.
We hope this post has clarified some areas of concern. Please know you can reach out to the PLC at any time.