Changes are happening to child care regulations at the federal level and here at home in Indiana. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is proposing a new rule to establish minimum standards for health and safety for child care providers who accept Child Care and Development Funds (CCDF) from low-income families. This is the first comprehensive revision of CCDF regulations since 1998. Child care providers that accept CCDF funds would be required to:
- receive health and safety training;
- comply with state and local fire, health, and building codes;
- pass comprehensive background checks; and
- receive on-site monitoring.
The Indiana General Assembly has also passed a new law establishing additional requirements for providers that accept CCDF vouchers. Effective July 1, 2013, requirements for child care providers that accept CCDF funding were expanded to include:
• sanitation standards
• safe sleeping practices
• written discipline process
• minimum age of 18 to supervise and 14 to work in a CCDF-funded program
• orientation for staff on facility and program
• medications inaccessible to children
• child abuse detection training
• volunteer definition (at least 8 hours per month)
• parental consent to transport children
• building safety
Welfare fraud was also added to the list of felonies and misdemeanors that render a provider ineligible for the CCDF. The Bureau of Child Care was also given emergency powers to decertify the provider and notify parents if there is any immediate threat to the health and safety of children. CCDF providers that fail to meet these standards will lose funding for at least two years.
There is also a new law in Indiana requiring comprehensive national criminal background checks for all child care employees and volunteers. Effective July 1, 2013, comprehensive national criminal FBI background checks with fingerprints will be required for volunteers and new employees that have direct contact with children in licensed child care centers, homes and ministries. Owners, employees and volunteers, including any adult members of a household in the event of a home based child care provider, cannot have any of the following:
• A felony conviction related to the health or safety of a child, a sex offense, a dangerous felony (as defined by law), or any other felony less than 10 years old;
• A misdemeanor conviction related to the health or safety of a child or for operating a child care center without a license; or
• Any substantially similar offense committed in another jurisdiction.
Licensed providers must meet these requirements not later than July 1, 2014. Background checks must be renewed every 3 years thereafter that the individual is continuously employed or allowed to volunteer. Providers that fail to comply risk losing licensure and state funding. The state cannot charge a church or religious society any fees or costs (other than fees or costs charged by the FBI) for the release of a background check record.