DEPARTMENT PRESENTS STREAMLINED EARLY CHILDHOOD LICENSING REGULATIONS

Nov 20, 2014

Months of Expert and Community Feedback Sustains Focus on Child Health and Safety

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education today proposed to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) new early childhood licensing rules for child care and Head Start centers that streamline older regulations while preserving strong requirements around child health and safety. The new, proposed regulations allow educators more time to focus on child development and learning. They were developed after months of public discussion involving early childhood experts – including many child care and Head Start leaders, stakeholders and community members.

“It is critical that we prepare our children for the classroom as early as possible, and that means ensuring our children enter kindergarten ready to learn,” said State Superintendent John White. “The proposed regulations also ensure that our preschool children are cared for and taught by qualified, competent, and trustworthy individuals while maintaining health and safety requirements.”

Highlights of the changes in the proposed licensing regulations presented to BESE include:

  • Increased Safety Standards: To better protect children, the state will require all new employees and volunteers complete a more intensive, fingerprint-based criminal background check; staff at every center will be trained in pediatric first aid and medication administration; and, adults are present when children are participating in water activities.

     

  • Family Friendly Policies: Families will be supported through the requirement that all centers post their licenses; the posting of daily schedules reflecting physical activity, rest time, and learning activities; and, flexibility to bring in food or ask for adjustments to best meet the dietary needs of their children.

     

  • Flexibility to Implement More Efficient and Effective Operations: Early learning centers directors and staff will be able to reduce paperwork and have more flexibility to choose professional development for their staff.  Directors will no longer have to get state approval for the 12 training hours required annually for all staff. Instead, they will choose from a set of relevant topics and pick the trainer or professional development program best meeting the needs of their staff.


Act 3 of the 2012 Legislative Session calls for a unified system of early childhood education and care to ensure all children enter kindergarten ready to learn. In 2012, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved a multi-year plan for implementation. At the state level, this plan involved the consolidation of early childhood oversight functions under one state board, BESE, and under one state agency, the Department of Education. This will allow for consistent, streamlined regulation and consistent accountability for results across child care, Head Start, and pre-kindergarten.

The Department announced the first cohort of pilot communities for the Early Childhood Care and Education Network in April 2013. A second cohort was announced in February 2014. A third cohort, consisting of applications from all remaining school districts not in the first two cohorts, will be announced in January 2015. All three cohorts will work to unify enrollment and access for families, implement common standards with shared measurement, and ensure equal access to professional development for teachers in all program types to improve the lives of Louisiana’s youngest learners.

“The Child Care Association of Louisiana (CCAL) is excited about the Department of Education's revised regulations that will continue to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our children in the state of Louisiana,” said Alan Young, Child Care Association of Louisiana. “It is through these new regulations and the implementation of Act 3 that we will ensure that our preschool children will enter school ‘ready to learn’. CCAL is looking forward to this bold and courageous partnership the Department of Education and our collaborative effort to provide every child the highest quality early childhood education.”

For more than a year, the Department has worked closely with experts, child care and Head Start leaders and other stakeholders on the licensing regulations.  Staff participated in a stakeholder workgroup, created a new email address to receive feedback, conducted multiple webinars and collaborated with pilots to host in-person sessions around the state. Following these efforts, the Department presented a draft set of licensing regulations to the new Early Childhood Care and Education Advisory Council, which was formed in October. This council advises BESE and the Department in implementing the landmark unification of the state’s early childhood systems. In early November, the Council spent hours reviewing the draft and provided 60 recommendations. Nearly all of these recommendations were included by the Department in the regulations that will be presented to BESE. The next meeting of the Advisory Council will be held on December 8 at 10 a.m. in the Claiborne Building in Baton Rouge.

"Combining stakeholders from different early care and childhood entities who share a common goal of ensuring the safety of all young children in the State of Louisiana has been beneficial to the development of the proposed licensing regulations,” said Contessia Brooks, Director of the West Feliciana Parish Family Service Center Early Head Start – Head Start Program.

“The Archdiocese of New Orleans is pleased to be working with the Department of Education to unify the early childhood system and provide quality child care to young children throughout the state of Louisiana,” said Dr Jan Lancaster, Superintendent of Catholic schools.

To read the proposed licensing regulations being presented to BESE, please click here.

To read the recommendations from the Early Childhood Advisory Council, please click here.

To view a presentation on the Early Childhood Policy Blueprint, please click here.
 

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