Public Policy

CAEYC Public Policy Agenda Update The Connecticut Association for the Education of Young Children advocates policies that enhance the quality of life for ALL children and families


 

Office of Early Childhood Legislative Update

Early Childhood Bills Pass in the House and Senate

Several early childhood bills passed in both the House and the Senate, many unanimously.  The Governor to date has signed all of the bills.

Senate Bill 1502 – An Act Implementing Provisions of the State Budget for the Biennium Ending June 30, 2017 Concerning General Government, Education and Health and Human Services – Signed by the Governor in original

This is the 686-page budget implementer bill.  This was an Emergency Certified bill that did not require the usual committee action. The bill passed 19-17 in the Senate; 78-65 in the House.

Here are the highlights of the bill related to early childhood:

  • Makes OEC the lead agency for the Birth-to-Three program, statutes moved from DDS to OEC;
  • Requires the OEC to require the Birth-to-Three program to notify parents and guardians of the availability of hearing tests for children receiving services under the program and exhibiting delayed speech, language, or hearing development.  Repeals P.A. 15-81, which imposed the same requirement for DDS, which no longer is the lead agency for Birth to Three.
  • Repeal coverage limits for services through the Birth-to-Three program. Current law limits this coverage to $6,400 per year per child, up to $19,200 for the three years, except that coverage under a group plan for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder is limited to $50,000 per year and $150,000 in total.
  • Requires SDE to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the OEC regarding the provision of special education and related services to children;
  • Requires a regional education service center (RESC) located in both Sheff and non-Sheff communities operating a magnet preschool program to charge tuition to the parent of guardian in an amount up to $4,053 annually for households earning more than 75 percent of the state median income.  Households earning income at or below 75 percent of the state median income shall not be charged tuition.  SDE, within available appropriations, shall be responsible for any unpaid tuition.
  • Requires each operator of an organized youth athletic activity, involving participants age 7 to 19, to make available upon registration a written or electronic statement regarding concussions to each youth and a parent or guardian of each youth participating in the youth athletic activity.
  • Makes managerial and professional employees within the OEC exempt from classified service;
  • Increases the School Readiness per child rates from $8,670 to not more than $8,927;
  • Allows existing state-funded Head Start grantees to shift existing funding from Head Start to an existing Early Head program;
  • Creates a two-generational school readiness and workforce development pilot program located in Greater Hartford, New Haven, Norwalk, Meriden, Colchester and Bridgeport. Creates an interagency working group, of which the OEC is a member;
  • Carries forward up to $375,250 for a child discontinuity study currently being conducted by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering for Fiscal Year 16 and 17 (an additional $150,000 from Smart Start funding is transferred for this study);
  • Establishes a Connecticut Low-Wage Employer Advisory Board that will advise the Labor Commissioner, the Office of Early Childhood, and the Departments of Social Services and Developmental Services on matters related to: (1) the causes and effects of businesses paying low wages to residents of the state, (2) public assistance usage among working residents of the state, (3) minimum wage rates necessary to ensure working residents of the state may achieve an economically stable standard of living, (4) improvement of the quality of public assistance programs affecting such residents, (5) wages and working conditions for the workforce delivering services to low-wage working families, and (6) reliance of businesses on state-funded public assistance programs. Members of the Board shall include a worker employed by a state-funded child care program, a child care advocacy organization; and a parent of a child enrolled in a state-funded child care program. A report must be submitted by December 1, 2015 to the legislative Labor, Human Services, and Education Committees and to the Commissioners of Labor, Social Services and Early Childhood.

Public Act 15-227 – An Act Concerning the Office of Early Childhood – Signed by the Governor

This is the OEC technical bill. Here are the highlights of the bill:

  • Removes the School Readiness residency requirement, which will now allow providers to enroll eligible children from other communities who need access to high-quality affordable early care and education;
  • Increases the amount of unexpended School Readiness funding to be used for staff scholarships from $500,000 to $1 million annually and increasing the individual staff scholarships from $5,000 to $10,000 annually;
  • Changes the Care4Kids redetermination window to 12 months, as prescribed by federal law, which will increase continuity of care for the child and parent.
  • Removes the requirement for Care4Kids to mail written notice of program changes to parents and providers, for cost-savings of $15,000 per mailing;
  • Removes the requirement for the OEC to submit a School Readiness Priority School District unmet need report;
  • Removes the word “day care” and replaces it with “child care” in the licensing statutes;
  • Clarifies that Smart Start grantees are awarded a “grant” rather than be reimbursed for operating expenses.
  • Adds members to the Early Childhood Cabinet to comply with the federal Preschool Development Grant as well as adding the Lt. Governor.
  • Moves the statutory reference to Even Start from SDE to the OEC;
  • Makes numerous technical changes to licensing statutes.
  • Renames the KEA back to the “kindergarten entrance inventory” and deletes the word “implement” to clarify that the OEC will develop the KEI, but does not implement the KEI. (An amount of $2 million is transferred from Smart Start funding to SDE to roll out the KEI.)

Public Act 15-134 – An Act Concerning Early Childhood Educator and Initiatives – Signed by the Governor

Here are the components of the bill:

  • Delays the requirement for state-funded early care and education programs to meet staff qualifications (50% of Qualified Staff Members to hold a bachelor’s degree and 50% to hold an associate’s degree) from July 1, 2015 to July 1, 2017.
  • Grandfathers those teachers who hold an associate’s degree and at least 12 credits in early childhood or child development who have been employed in the same state-funded program since 1995 from stricter staff qualification requirements.
  • Requires the OEC to develop a plan by January 1, 2016 to assist early childhood program providers that accept state funds in the implementation of staff qualification requirements, including supporting teachers in obtaining a bachelor’s degree, increasing salaries for those teachers obtaining a bachelor’s degree, and retaining teachers with such degree.
  • Requires the OEC to submit a report July 1, annually, regarding the status of school readiness providers’ compliance with staff qualification requirements;
  • Requires the OEC to conduct a trend analysis of unapproved early childhood degree programs to determine if they are aligned with NAEYC teacher preparation standards.
  • Requires magnet and charter schools to become NAEYC accredited;
  • Requires the OEC to collaborate with local and regional early childhood councils (Discovery Communities), and the OEC may, within available appropriations, provide funding to these entities;
  • Requires the State Department of Education to include a preschool experience survey in kindergarten registration materials (previously the legislation read “may”);

Public Act 15-96 – An Act Prohibiting Out-Of-School Suspensions and Expulsion for Students in Preschool and Grades Kindergarten to Grade Two – Signed by the Governor

This bill applies to preschool programs operated under a local or regional board of education, state or local charter school, or magnet school.  This bill will apply to School Readiness programs operating in a public school under the local or regional board of education. The bill states that no preschool program provider, as defined above, shall expel any child, except an expulsion hearing shall be conducted whenever there is reason to believe that the child was in possession of a firearm on or off school grounds or at a preschool program-sponsored event. The child shall be expelled for one calendar year if it is determined that the child did possess a firearm. A preschool program provider may modify the period of expulsion for a child on a case-by-case basis. The bill also states that a preschool program provider, as defined above, may only authorize an in-school suspension.

Public Act 15-161 – An Act Concerning Notification by Law Enforcement Agencies to Day Care Centers – Signed by the Governor

This bill requires (1) child care centers and family child care home providers to submit contact information to the local police department or state police troop, and (2) the local police department or state police troop to notify child care centers of emergency conditions near such child care center that may endanger the safety and welfare of the children. It is recommended that programs maintain a copy of the written notification provided to police on file at the program.

Public Act 15-157 – An Act Concerning Developmental Screenings for Children – Signed by the Governor

This bill requires authorized health care providers to indicate on the SDE early childhood health assessment record form or the health assessment form (yellow form) whether a developmental screening was conducted. “Developmental screening” means a screening using a method recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to identify concerns regarding a child’s physical and mental development, including, but not limited to, the child’s sensory, behavioral, motor, language, social, perceptual or emotional skills. Licensed child care providers should be aware that this information must be provided on the child health assessment forms maintained for all enrolled children.

Public Act 15-174 – An Act Concerning Childhood Vaccinations – Signed by the Governor

This bill states when a parent or guardian objects to an immunization on religious grounds, such objection must be accompanied by a statement from the parents or guardian that the immunization would be contrary to the religious belief of the child or the parents or guardian. The statement must be notarized or otherwise appropriately acknowledged and updated annually.

Public Act 15-39 – An Act Concerning Infant Safe Sleep Practices – Signed by the Governor

This bill requires hospitals to provide parents of newborns written information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about safe sleep practices.

Public Act 15-45 – An Act Establishing a Home Visitation Program Consortium – Signed by the Governor

This bill establishes a Home Visitation Program Consortium that shall (1) advise regarding the implementation of the recommendations in the Home Visiting report for the coordination of home visitation programs within the early childhood system, and (2) ensure the continued collaboration of home visitation programs within the state in order to improve the services offered to vulnerable families with young children. The Commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood, or designee, is designated as member of the Consortium. The OEC will staff this consortium.

Public Act 15-27 – An Act Concerning The Implementation of a Comprehensive Children’s Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Health Plan – Signed by the Governor

This bill establishes the Children’s Behavioral Health Plan Implementation Advisory Board that shall (1) execute and oversee a comprehensive implementation plan, and (2) ensure the continued collaboration of agencies and stakeholders in order to prevent or reduce the long-term negative impact of mental, emotional and behavioral health issues on children.  The Commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood, or designee, is designated as a member of the board.

Public Act 15-10 – An Act Establishing a Task Force to Study the State-Wide Response to Family Violence – Signed by the Governor

A representative from the Office of Early Childhood, appointed by the Governor, will be a member of this task force.

Public Act 15-221 – An Act Concerning the Protection of Particularly Vulnerable Children Signed by the Governor

This bill requires the child fatality review panel to conduct a study regarding the current policies and procedures used to protect particularly vulnerable children in the state from unexpected death or critical injury. The Office of the Child Advocate, in consultation with the child fatality review board, shall conduct a study regarding the causes and rates of child fatalities in the state.  The Office of the Child Advocate shall submit a report by July 2, 2016, regarding the causes and rates of child fatalities in Connecticut.  Not more than 60 days after the submission of the report, the Children’s and Education Committees shall hold a joint public forum regarding the causes and rates of child fatalities in Connecticut.

Public Act 15-143 – An Act Concerning the Legislative Commissioner’s Recommendations for Technical Revisions to the Education and Early Childhood Statutes – Signed by the Governor

This is a purely technical bill that cleans up several early childhood statutes.

If any OEC staff has questions, please contact Maggie Adair, Director of Government & Community Relations, Maggie.Adair@ct.gov or 860-713-6413.

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