The legislature finds that many rural communities face child care and early learning supply shortages due to factors that include geographic isolation and fewer providers. These shortages contribute to economic challenges in the child care market, undermining child care affordability for families and threatening the viability of child care businesses. It is the intent of the legislature to implement policies to relieve providers and families by streamlining child care access, balancing subsidy requirements, and supporting the needs of rural communities:
- This bill amends current law so a child who is eligible at the time of enrollment in Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program maintains program eligibility until the child begins kindergarten.
- Subject to the availability of appropriated funds, the department may pay child day care centers and family day care providers a subsidy rate that is equal to or higher than the provider's private pay rate in order to support high quality care and the implementation of health, safety, and quality requirements.
- By November 1, 2020, DCYF must provide the appropriate committees of the legislature with a list of recommended child care licensing innovations designed to improve access to care in rural areas, including estimated costs for each item and necessary statutory changes.
- DCYF will create a dual license pilot project that allows individuals to receive a combined foster care and child care license. The pilot project must commence by July 1, 2020, and 23 conclude by June 30, 2022.