December 10, 2020
In This Issue:
Happy Holidays from NCLCCA
Thank you for your advocacy and support of NCLCCA this year... we promise to work as hard in 2021 for the licensed child care industry as we did this year. Renewals are coming soon - headed for your inbox. If you are not a dues-paying member of NCLCCA, we encourage you to join for 2021. (Unsure if you are also a member? Email us to find out.)
Governor Issues "Modified Stay-at-Home Order" with 10 p.m. Curfew - No Impact on Licensed Child Care Programs
In an effort to address rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations statewide, this week Governor Roy Cooper issued a "modified stay-at-home order" (EO 181) centered on a curfew that restricts most dining, entertainment and retail business from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Additionally, alcohol sales are banned after 9 p.m. The order and curfew are effective on Friday, December 11, and last until at least Jan. 8. The curfew included in Executive Order 181 should not directly impact licensed child care programs.
Child Care Commission Meeting Highlights - Lots of Information + Rule Changes Adopted
The NC Child Care Commission held its Second Quarter Meeting on Monday, December 7. (The Child Care Commission makes rules for licensed child care programs - its members are appointed by the governor and state legislative leaders.) Highlights from this week's Commission meeting include the following:
DCDEE Report - Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) Director Ariel Ford gave Commissioners a "Director's Report," which you can access online HERE. Her report included updates on COVID-19 relief for child care, changes in COVID-19 "Interim Guidance," changes in provider data collection, the Division's planned "COVID-19 Impact Survey," top recurring violations in centers and family care homes, data about Administrative Actions, and more.
Operational Grant Funding Coming This Week - DCDEE reported that the last installment (for now) of "operational grant" funding should be showing up in licensed child care programs' bank accounts this week, beginning as early as Wednesday, Dec. 9. (These last deposits are 25% of the grant amounts that programs were awarded over the summer.) NCLCCA lobbied state legislators to appropriate funding to DCDEE for additional operational grants when they met for a special COVID-19 legislative session in September. Legislators wound up sending $35 million to DCDEE for the latest round of grants.
Staff Bonus Funding Coming Soon - DCDEE also reported that licensed programs should see funding for staff bonuses for the month of November in their accounts next week - on or around Monday, Dec. 14. Funding for bonuses for December will be deposited in provider accounts toward the end of the month.
Open Programs & Attendance - According to DCDEE, 90% of licensed child care programs (centers and family care homes) are now open and operating in North Carolina, but they are only seeing 60% of their normal enrollment.
Child Care COVID-19 "Interim Guidance" Updates - DCDEE Director Ariel Ford reported that the COVID-19 "Interim Guidance" for child care facilities will be updated this week to reflect the governor's recent order that all children ages 5 and up must wear face coverings on site. She said that December updates will also reflect new quarantine guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
COVID-19 Impact Survey Coming in 2021 - Early next year (2021) DCDEE will be conducting a "COVID-19 Impact Survey." DCDEE says that letters about the online survey will be mailed to providers in January with a report summarizing responses expected in the spring of 2021.
Market Rate Survey Postponed? - Due to the pandemic, DCDEE plans to request that the federal government allow them to postpone the typical "Market Rate Survey" (used to establish reimbursement rates for Subsidized Child Care Assistance) by one year until October of 2021.
Pilot Studying Clear Masks that Show Facial Expressions - DCDEE Assistant Director of Regulatory Services Tammy Barnes reported that some speech pathologists and infant teachers are involved in a pilot project to test the use of face masks with clear plastic over the mouth due to widespread concerns about how COVID-19 face mask policies may negatively impact early childhood development.
Proposed Rule Changes Adopted - The Child Care Commission adopted a package of rule changes and accompanying Fiscal Note at its December 7 meeting that will implement new Birth-Kindergarten teacher licensing pathways, provide countable annual training credit for receiving technical assistance (TA), increase enforcement of out-of-state background checks, and modify operational documentation and communication requirements. The proposed rule amendments also include minor or inconsequential technical edits. A public hearing was held for the proposed rule amendments months earlier on September 14, and the public comment period for these rule changes closed on October 16. If the changes are accepted by the Rules Review Commission without delay or suggested modifications, their effective date will be February 1, 2021. NCLCCA advocated on behalf of licensed child care providers when these rule changes were first brought to the Commission in 2019. As a result of NCLCCA involvement and advocacy, improvements were made to the proposed rule changes involving outdoor space and enhanced outdoor space.
NCLCCA Speaks Up about Workforce Crisis and Criminal Background Check Delays - During the "public comment" period at this week's Child Care Commission meeting NCLCCA representative Sherry Melton described for Commissioners the serious problems licensed child care providers are having finding, hiring and keeping teachers and staff. More specifically, NCLCCA informed Commissioners about ongoing delays in accessing fingerprinting services for prospective new employees and those who need to be requalified (every three years), listing more than a dozen counties where it's taking 2 weeks to 2 months to get a fingerprint appointment. DCDEE Director Ariel Ford thanked NCLCCA for its comments and responded that the Division will be taking a serious look at the problems described. NCLCCA thanks all of the providers who recently responded to its online survey about Criminal Background Check delays - because of you we were able to take this important, timely information straight to child care regulators and rule-makers to raise awareness and understanding of the top challenge licensed providers are facing right now!
Next Meeting - The Child Care Commission's next (virtual) meeting will be held on Monday, Feb 8th from 9 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Time is provided for comments from the public during each regularly scheduled Commission meeting.
ICYMI - Recent Updates from the Division of Child Development & Early Education (DCDEE)
Provider Survey Results
Thank you to everyone who took time to complete our survey... we've heard your feedback and utilized that as we work to complete our 2021 policy agenda. Below is a summary for just one of the questions, and the rest can be found HERE.
Legislators return to the General Assembly on January 13, 2021 for the "long session." We will provide more details about our policy agenda, but the highlights include:
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