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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    Senate Document No. 14
    PUBLICATION YEAR 2016

    Document Title
    Child Day Programs Exempt from Licensure (SJR 63, 2016)

    Author
    Department of Social Services

    Enabling Authority
    SJR 63 (Regular Session, 2016)

    Executive Summary
    This report is submitted pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution No. 63 of the 2016 Session of the General Assembly, which directs the Virginia Department of Social Services (Department) to study child day programs exempt from licensure through a comprehensive review of the current 14 categories of exemption found in 63.2-1715 of the Code of Virginia (Code) and recommendations on whether those categories should remain exempt, and whether modifications are necessary to protect the health and well-being of children receiving care in such programs. The resolution also directs the Department to consider whether modifications to health and safety requirements for licensed child day centers are necessary.

    Recommendations

    1. The Code should be amended to specify what is not considered a "child day program" and remove non-child day programs from the list of exemptions in the Code.

    A child day program is defined in 63.2-100 of the Code as "a regularly operating service arrangement for children where, during the absence of a parent or guardian, a person or organization has agreed to assume responsibility for the supervision, protection, and well-being of a child under the age of 13 for less than a 24-hour period."

    The following exemptions should be removed from the current list of exemptions in 63 .2-1715 of the Code because they do not meet the definition of a child day program, reducing the current list of exemptions from 14 to six:

    a. A program of instructional experience in a single focus activity, such as, but not limited to, computer science, archaeology, sport clinics, or music, if children under the age of six do not attend at all and if no child is allowed to attend for more than 25 days in any three-month period commencing with enrollment. This exemption does not apply if children merely change their enrollment to a different focus area at a site offering a variety of activities and such children's attendance exceeds 25 days in a three-month period.

    b. Programs of instructional or recreational activities wherein no child under age six attends for more than six hours weekly with no class or activity period to exceed one and one-half hours, and no child six years of age or above attends for more than six hours weekly when school is in session or 12 hours weekly when school is not in session. Competition, performances and exhibitions related to the instructional or recreational activity shall be excluded when determining the hours of program operation.

    c. Early intervention programs for children eligible under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as amended, wherein no child attends for more than a total of six hours per week.

    d. Practice or competition in organized competitive sports leagues.

    e. Programs of religious instruction, such as Sunday schools, vacation Bible schools, and Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah classes and child minding services provided to allow parents or guardians who are on site to attend religious worship or instructional services.

    f. A program of instructional or athletic experience operated during the summer months by, and as an extension of, an accredited private elementary, middle, or high school program as set forth in 22.1-19 and administered by the Virginia Council for Private Education.

    g. Instructional programs offered by private schools that satisfy compulsory attendance laws or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as amended, and programs of school-sponsored extracurricular activities that are focused on single interests such as, but not limited to, music, sports, drama, civic service, or foreign language.

    h. Instructional programs offered by public schools that serve preschool-age children or that satisfy compulsory attendance laws, or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as amended, and programs of school-sponsored extracurricular activities that are focused on single interests such as, but not limited to, music, sports, drama, civic service, or foreign language.

    2. The exemptions recommended to be removed from 63.2-1715 of the Code should be revised and rewritten as a list of programs that do not meet the definition of a child day program.

    The stakeholder group was undecided about where such a listing should reside. If this listing is made, clarifications are recommended. The revisions below show added text as underlined and removed text as stricken.

    a. Programs of religious instruction such as to include, but not be limited to, Sunday schools, vacation Bible schools, and Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah classes, and child minding services provided. This includes nurseries offered by religious institutions to allow parents or guardians their designees who are on site to attend worship or instructional services religious services and related activities, provided for the duration of a specified service or activity.

    The recommendation to remove child minding services was the result of discussion within the group and a need to clarify that Sunday schools, vacation Bible schools, Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, and nurseries are not considered child care, according to the definition of 'child day program' found in 63.2-100 of the Code.

    b. Instructional programs offered by private schools that serve school-age children and satisfy compulsory attendance laws or provide services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as amended, and programs of school-sponsored extracurricular activities that are focused on single interests such as, but not limited to, music, sports, drama, civic service, or foreign language.

    This recommendation adds clarification that private schools that serve school-age children as part of instructional programs offered by the school are not child care programs. This clarification was added to mirror the language in the exemption language for instructional programs offered by public schools.

    c. Instructional programs offered by public schools that serve preschool-age children or that satisfy compulsory attendance laws, or provide services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as amended, and or programs of school-sponsored extracurricular activities that are focused on single interests such as, but not limited to, music, sports, drama, civic service, or foreign language.

    3. The Code should be amended as follows to revise the remaining list of exemptions in 63.2-1715.

    The revisions below show added text as underlined and removed text as stricken.

    A. The following child day programs shall not be required to be licensed:

    1) A child day center that has obtained an exemption pursuant to 63.2-1716.

    2) A program where, by written policy given to and signed by a parent or guardian, school-aged children are free to enter and leave the premises without permission or supervision, regardless of (i) such program's location or the number of days per week of its operation; (ii) the provision of transportation services, including drop off and pick up times; or (iii) the scheduling of breaks for snacks, homework, or other activities. A program that would qualify for this exemption except that it assumes responsibility for the supervision, protection and well-being of several children with disabilities who are mainstreamed shall not be subject to licensure. Such program must have obtained exemption pursuant to a new Code section which has basic health and safety requirements.

    3) A program that operates no more than a total of 20 program days in the course of a calendar year provided that programs serving children under age six operate no more than two consecutive weeks without a break of at least a week. Such program must have obtained exemption pursuant to a new Code section which has basic health and safety requirements.

    4) Child-minding services that are not available for more than three hours per day for any individual child offered on site in commercial or recreational establishments if the parent or guardian (i) is not an on duty employee, except fur part time employees working less than two hours per day, (i) can be contacted and can resume responsibility for the child's supervision within 30 minutes, and (ii) is receiving or providing services or participating in activities offered by the establishment. Such programs must have obtained exemption pursuant to a new Code section which has basic health and safety requirements.

    5) A certified preschool or nursery school program operated by a private school that is accredited by a statewide accrediting organization recognized by the Board of Education or accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children's National Academy of Early Childhood Programs; the Association of Christian Schools International; the American Association of Christian Schools; the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation; the National Accreditation Council for Early Childhood Professional Personnel and Programs; the International Academy for Private Education; the American Montessori Society; the International Accreditation and Certification of Childhood Educators, Programs, and Trainers; or the National Accreditation Commission that complies with the provisions of 63.2-1717.

    6) A program of recreational activities offered by local governments, staffed by local government employees, and attended by school-age children. Such programs shall be subject to safety and supervisory standards established by the local governments.

    4. The Code should be amended to require exempt programs to register with the Department. The Department will develop the registration process.

    5. The Code should be amended to require exempt programs to post signage, on the premises where services are being delivered, regarding their program's exemption status. Posting language should indicate the program is not licensed, is not inspected by the Department, and only self-certifies basic health and safety requirements.

    6. The Code should be amended to require basic health and safety standards for all exempt programs. Basic health and safety standards to protect the well-being of infants and children are recommended for exempt programs that do not have existing health and safety standards under an oversight organization.

    The following basic health and safety standards are recommended:

    a. At least one staff member with current CPR/First Aid certification shall remain on the premises when children are present or at other locations where children are present at all times.

    b. All staff shall have background checks. Depending on the type of program, the background check may be more or less stringent. Because of the differences in programs, the type, extent, and frequency of background checks would need to be determined.

    c. The program shall maintain daily attendance records that document the arrival and departure of all children served.

    d. The program shall have an emergency preparedness plan in place.

    e. The program shall follow existing Virginia laws regarding transportation of children.

    7. The Code should be amended in 63.2-1716 for religious exempt programs, as follows.

    The revisions below show added text as underlined and removed text as stricken.

    a. At least one staff member with current CPR/First Aid certification shall remain on the premises when children are present or at other locations where children are present at all times.

    b. The child day center employs supervisory personnel according to the following ratio of staff to children:

    1) One staff member to four children from zero to twenty-four months.
    2) One staff member to ten eight children from ages twenty-four months to thirty-six months years.
    3) One staff member to ten children from ages thirty-six months to five years.
    4) One staff member to eighteen children from five years to nine years.
    5) One staff member to twenty five children ages six years and older from nine years
    to twelve years.

    c. Adherence to safe sleep practices for infants as recommended by the Department.

    8. Pursuant to the authority provided in Section C of 63.2-1716, the Department should begin inspecting religious exempt child day centers for compliance with the health and safety requirements in 63.2-1716 of the Code.

    9. The Department should develop a system for tracking aggregate data on child injuries and deaths at licensed, regulated, and exempt child day programs.

    10. The Department should clarify the categories of child day programs and revise descriptions about exemptions and licensure so that parents and the general public are better informed about the different categories of child care, and which programs have Department oversight.