This act would expand eligibility to the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) by establishing a pilot program which would provide low-income families with high quality early learning opportunities modeled after early head start programs for their children from birth to 3 years of age.
This pilot program would be state-funded and eligible for children under 36 months old, with a commencement date of July 1st, 2019 and ending on June 30th, 2022.
HB 1351 requires the Department to:
- Consider early head start rules and regulations when developing provider, family eligibility, and program requirements;
- Offer home visiting services that the child or family are eligible for under the home visiting service’s statutory eligibility requirements, and must include at least 3 home visits per year if eligible;
- Ensure the pilot program meets minimum licensing standards, be enrolled in Early Achievers, and have an Early Achievers rating of at least 4 while providing a minimum of 1,380 annual hours of classroom operations; and
- Select up to 10 pilot project locations during the first year of the project.
Furthermore, eligibility requirements would include:
- For the child to be under 36 months old; and
- For the child’s family income to range from 110%-200% of the federal poverty level.
HB 1351 also requires for the Department to conduct evaluations of quality and performance measures, starting with an annual report beginning on November 1st, 2019, and with a final report being submitted by November 1st, 2023.
*Companion to SB 5437*
- Changed the definition of "eligible child" in the ECEAP to include two groups: a child entitled to enrollment in the ECEAP, and a child allowed to be enrolled in the ECEAP;
- Removed family eligibility for public assistance from the definition describing criteria for entitlement;
- Requires the DCYF to prioritize entitled children before enrolling "allowed" children as space is available;
- Increased the maximum family income for an entitled child from 110 percent of the FPL to 130 percent of the FPL;
- Allows the enrollment of a child with a family income greater than 130 percent of FPL, but less than or equal to 200 percent of the FPL;
- Removed the 25 percent cap on statewide enrollment of children allowed to be enrolled who have incomes greater than 110 percent of the FPL;
- Requires the DCYF to enroll an allowed child, as space is available, according to a system of risk factors and priority points adopted by the DCYF in rule; and
- Requires the DCYF to develop recommendations related to differential slot rates for the ECEAP based on variable factors that may contribute to provider costs, and report to the Governor and the Legislature by September 1, 2020.
Furthermore, the substitute bill also:
- Modifies the birth-to-three ECEAP pilot to:
- Allow eligibility for children with incomes at or below 130 percent of the FPL rather than 110 percent of the FPL;
- Change the dates of the pilot to January 1, 2020, through June 30, 2023, and extend associated reporting dates accordingly;
- Stipulate that the pilot must be delivered through child care centers and family home providers;
- Removes the requirement for the provider to be rated at a Level 4 in the EA program;
- Adds a requirement for the DCYF to establish EA standards for providers participating in the pilot;
- Removed requirements related to a minimum number of classroom hours and specified teacher to child ratios; and
- Removed provisions related to home visiting.
The emergency clause is also removed.