Mar 26, 2015

Department to complete transition to Lead Agency for Child Care Development Fund as part of Act 3 Transition

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education today announced new, streamlined early childhood regulations, approved in December 2014, will take effect on July 1, 2015. On the same day, the Department will complete the multi-year transition of the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) from the Department of Children and Family Services, thereby fully unifying state and federal funding for child care subsidies and quality initiatives. Early learning centers will be able to work with one state agency to obtain a license, apply for public funding, and improve the quality of their programs.

“To prepare more children for kindergarten, Louisiana is creating a one-stop shop that enables centers to focus on helping children learn in safe and healthy environments and makes it easier for families to choose a quality option for their children,” said State Superintendent John White “The Department will continue to work closely with centers to ensure a seamless transition on July 1.”

The new, streamlined regulations will impact approximately 1,700 early learning centers across the state. In preparation for the new regulations, the Department will provide extensive training and guidance to early learning centers during the three month transition period. Training provided will include:

  • Written guidance for early childhood providers through a new guidebook and the bi-weekly Early Childhood Connection newsletter,
  • Eight In-person training session held in locations across the state, and
  • Four weekly webinars, each focused on specific areas of the new regulations, recorded and posted to the Department’s website.

Additionally, the Department is working closely with the Child Care Association of Louisiana and the Head Start Association to inform and prepare providers for the new regulations to take effect. In June, early learning providers will receive written notification of the July 1 effective date and a new license.

“The Louisiana Legislature has taken several steps to unify a fragmented early childhood system and make sure all children have the opportunity to enter school ready for success,” said State Senator Mike Walsworth. “It is exciting to see government agencies working closely with child care, Head Start, and pre-K programs to implement these laws now.”

“This is a historic shift for the child care industry in Louisiana. Programs that serve children with public dollars are taking big steps to bring an academic focus to their work and help prepare our young children for kindergarten. We are excited to work with our members as well as The Department of Education to implement regulations that have been informed by a wide range of child care providers across the state,” said Jonathan Pearce, President of the Child Care Association of Louisiana.

The new, streamlined regulations taking effect July 1 allow educators more time to focus on child development and learning. They were developed after extensive public discussion involving early childhood experts – including many child care and Head Start leaders, stakeholders and community members.

“Head Start has been at the table for an inclusive process in which representatives of child care, Head Start, private schools, advocacy organizations and government worked together to develop regulations that keep children safe and ease administrative burdens,” said Alvin Jones, Louisiana Head Start Association President.

Highlights of the new licensing regulations approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (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 will have more flexibility over operations.
  • Academic Approval for Publicly-Funded Programs: Early learning centers that choose to take public funds will have to participate in the new letter grade rating system and to coordinate enrollment as part of their local Early Childhood Community Networks. This will ensure families have consistent information about program quality and are able to apply for programs through an easy, coordinated process.

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, BESE approved a multi-year plan that must be fully implemented by the start of the 2015-2016 school year. Act 868 of the 2014 Regular Legislative Session calls for 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.

To read the licensing regulations approved by BESE, please click here.

The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is authorized by the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (CCDBGA) and Section 418 of the Social Security Act. Each state qualifies to receive an amount of federal funds each year and can receive additional federal funds by spending state dollars for child care subsidies and quality initiatives. 

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