Sponsored by Representative Farrell, HB 1671 states that the department will provide a 10% increase in the Working Connections Child Care subsidy rate and that the co pays required for this program must be returned to the levels in effect on July 1, 2010. In addition, applicants who are enrolled in two-year or four-year colleges, vocational and training programs, and worker retraining programs may be eligible for Working Connections Child Care benefits.
The bill also defines and delineates the Early Achievers program, which is intended to support and reward child care providers for providing high-quality child care. Early Achievers is a voluntary program that establishes a quality rating system for child care programs with five levels and criteria including trainings completed, child outcomes, curriculum, environment, and family engagement. Child care providers that achieve Level Two in the program will receive a 5% per child increase in the Working Connections subsidy rate.
Next, the bill establishes a “Child Care Consumer and Provider Bill of Rights,” which includes the requirement that the department return all calls from consumers within 48 hours, develop an electronic process for submission of forms, notify providers two weeks prior about a parent’s loss of eligibility, and convene a parent and provider oversight board. It also creates a legislative task force on child care improvements for the future.
Substitute bill (as amended by the ELHS committee): The provisions requiring the DEL to return the WCCC copayments to the rate effective on July 1, 2010, and to increase child care subsidy rated by 10 percent are removed from the bill. The goals of the Early Achievers program are outlined and provisions describing the levels of the Early Achievers program are removed. The specific responsibilities of the DEL and the DSHS relating to parents receiving or applying for the WCCC are also outlined in the HB 1671bill. The legislative task force includes two new members. Finally, the bill specifies that the standards and guidelines outlined in the bill do not create a right.
Appropriations amendment: Removes the authorization allowing individuals in certain educational activities to be eligible for Working Connections Child Care subsidies. Deletes the legislative task force on child care improvements.