PUBLIC HEARING: Tuesday, July 20, 2021 at 1 p.m. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this hearing will be conducted via a Zoom.
COMMENT DEADLINE: Friday, July 30, 2021 at 5 p.m.
CONTACT PERSON FOR THIS FILING: Janet Whitten, DHHS – OCFS, 2 Anthony Avenue – 11 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0011. Telephone: (207) 287-7068. Email: LicensingRules.OCFS@Maine.gov .
As with the Family Child Care Licensing Rule we encourage all programs to begin the work of complying with the requirements found in the proposed Rule draft. Large changes are not expected, especially with the FCC Rule going into effect the end of May, 2021. Following the process and by past experience we should see the Facility Rule in effect in Sept. 2021. This means immediate compliance on the day released as in effect.
If you are looking for sample language the resources in the FCC Licensing Rule Toolkit might provide a good starting foundation.
Here is the State’s Summary: *note that not all changes are included, just significant changes
The Department is proposing rulemaking to repeal ch. 32, Rules for the Licensing of Child Care Facilities, and ch. 36, Rules for the Licensing of Nursery Schools. The Department proposes to replace these two rules with one combined rule ch. 32, Child Care Facility Licensing Rule – Child Care Centers, Nursery Schools, Small Child Care Facilities, Other Programs. This proposed rule updates the current regulations and merges and consolidates requirements for Child Care Facilities including, Child Care Centers, Nursery Schools, Small Child Care Facilities, and Other Programs.
Substantive changes from the current rules to the proposed rule include adding the federal requirements of the 2014 reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), 42 U.S.C. §9857 et seq., changing requirements necessary to meet the health and safety needs of children in Child Care Facility settings, and removing and modifying provisions in the current rules in order to streamline requirements and processes.
Additionally, on May 10, 2021, the Federal Office of Child Care issued guidance for States regarding requirements for the almost $24 billion dollars in child care stabilization funding included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law No:117-2) that requires Child Care Facilities are in compliance with all CCDBG health and safety requirements in order to be eligible to receive stabilization grant money. Maine will begin administering the grants on or about October 1, 2021.
Significant changes include:
- Reframing the order and language of the rule to describe provider licensing responsibilities more clearly;
- Removing obsolete definitions, while adding and clarifying other definitions necessary for the rule;
- Adding that the Department will post all inspection reports to a website available to the public for a period of three years;
- Streamlining and clarifying requirements for license applications;
- Eliminating requirements for personal references;
- Requiring an applicant to complete pre-licensure health and safety training;
- Adding the requirement for compliance with 10-148 C.M.R ch. 34 Child Care Provider Background Check Licensing Rule, which was effective Sept. 25, 2020;
- Adding additional requirements for the staff manual;
- Expanding written policy requirements for handling suspected instances of child abuse and neglect;
- Adding a requirement to register with Maine’s Quality Rating Improvement System;
- Adding clarifying language regarding the waiver process;
- Clarifying inspection and investigation procedures;
- Adding language to the rule for transparency to reflect current practice of requiring a Plan of Action or issuance of a Directed Plan of Action;
- Unifying record-keeping requirements and including additional requirements in the program manual and policies;
- Increasing personnel record retention and child records to three years;
- Adding the requirement for record of immunization for all children;
- Clarifying and adding requirements for notifications and reports to the Department including adverse drinking water results;
- Adding provisions to supervision;
- Broadening staff qualifications and requirements;
- Specifying orientation and ongoing training requirements;
- Adding safe sleep provisions;
- Adding a requirement for registration with Maine’s Professional Development Network;
- Adding additional constructive methods of guidance;
- Clarifying prohibited detrimental practices;
- Merging Rights of Children;
- Requiring written instructions regarding child abuse and neglect reporting;
- Requiring the Child Protective Intake hotline number be posted;
- Adding requirement that all children have a current record of immunization on file, removing specific exemptions from immunization requirements, per P.L. 2019 ch. 154 §11 (eff. Sept. 1, 2021)
- For Nursery Schools only, every 2 years each licensee, administrator and other staff members of the Nursery School who provide care for children must be declared free from communicable disease by a licensed physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant. Pursuant to 22 MRS §8402, effective September 1, 2021, there will no longer be exemptions from this requirement based on religious or philosophical beliefs;
- Adding requirement for facilities serving 13 or more Children to have a separate first aid kit and manual in each classroom;
- Adding a requirement to test drinking water for lead and other specified contaminants;
- Adding requirement to notify parents when on a bottled water agreement;
- Adding requirements related to the indoor physical environment to include the requirement for shock absorbing material, requirements regarding power equipment, requirements regarding purses, bags, medications and other belongings;
- Adding time requirements for outdoor play and limits for television, videos, and hand-held electronic devices;
- Adding a requirement for a carbon monoxide detector;
- Decreasing minimum indoor temperature requirement to 65 � Fahrenheit;
- Increasing requirements for outdoor play areas including specific criteria for fencing, use of helmets, and energy absorbing material in fall zones;
- Adding requirements for exceeding maximum group size in outdoor areas;
- Adding requirements for bathing facilities;
- Specifying and adding requirements for emergency preparedness plans;
- Clarifying requirements for swimming and wading settings and adding requirements for hot tubs;
- Adding more healthy meal and snack requirements and limiting consumption of juice;
- Adding a requirement for documentation of allergy plan;
- Adding safety precautions in kitchen facilities;
- Adding disqualifying driving offenses prohibiting provider transport of children;
- Decreasing restrictions to first floor;
- Limiting use of infant equipment to 30 consecutive minutes;
- Adding requirements regarding feeding and storage of breast milk;
- Prohibiting the practice of swaddling;
- Adding requirements for nighttime care; and
- Increasing transparency and clarifying enforcement authority and process.