Partners for Our Children

HB 1491 is the companion (same as) to SB 5452.

As amended by the ELHS Committee: The substitute bill allows tribes to govern participation in the Early Achievers program through an interlocal agreement between the tribe and the DEL. The agreement exempts tribal child care facilities and early learning programs from posting their rating on the DEL website if they provide proper notification and access to parents and guardians on their Early Achievers program rating level.

Additionally, the bill as amended allows the DEL to implement a process to review and accept national accreditation standards as qualifications for the Early Achievers program ratings if those standards are found by the DEL to meet or exceed the current program standards.

HB 1491 now requires the DEL to prioritize authorized resources to assist providers rating at a level 2 to reach a level 3 in the Early Achievers program. Finally, the substitute bill allows sectarian public and private organizations to participate as ECEAP providers and requires the Subcommittee to submit annual reports to the DEL and the Legislature beginning January 1, 2016.

Second SHB 1491 as amended by the House Appropriation Committee: The second substitute bill requires (1) the DEL to accept nationally accredited programs with standards that meet or exceed the Early Achievers program standards as a qualification for Early Achievers program ratings and specifies that eligibility for the Early Achievers program is not subject to bargaining, (2) clarifies that the legislature has the authority to make programmatic modifications to licensed child care and early learning programs, (3) twelve-month authorizations for Working Connection Child Care subsidy are effective January 1, 2016, (4) the requirement for ECEAP providers to maintain a full day option is removed, (5) requires the DEL to: (a) conduct an analysis of state-funded early learning subsidy rates and market rates of licensed child care homes and centers that serve children ages birth to 3; and (b) make biennial recommendations to the Legislature regarding these rates and compensation models that would attract and retain high quality early learning professionals. Finally (6) it removes the requirement that the DEL implement an electronic time and attendance records system.

Second SHB 1491 as amended and passed on the Floor:

(1) Retains the provisions of the underlying second substitute with the following changes: (a) Replaces the requirement that participants continually advance from level 1 to level 5 in the Early Achievers program with the requirement that participants continually advance within the Early Achievers program. (b) Allows but does not require the Department of Early Learning (DEL) to charge a fee for optional reratings of Early Achievers program participants conducted outside the established rating cycle. (c) Requires the DEL to consult with the Early Achievers Review Subcommittee on all substantial policy changes to the Early Achievers program. (d) Extends the deadlines by one year for existing child care providers serving nonschool age children and receiving Working Connections Child Care subsidy payments. (e) Requires the DEL to review available research and best practices literature on cultural competency in early learning settings. (f) Requires the DEL to award 50 percent of the contracted slots for children birth to age three until August 1, 2017.

(2) Creates a Joint Select Committee on the Early Achievers program to review the following: (a) The demand and availability of licensed or certified child care family homes and centers, approved Early Childhood Educational and Assistance programs, Head Start programs, and family, friend, and neighbor caregivers by geographic region, including rural and low-income areas; (b) the geographic distribution of these child care programs by type of program, enrollment in the Early Achievers program, and Early Achievers rating levels; and (c) the demand and availability of these child care programs for major ethnic populations.

By December 1, 2017 the Early Achievers Joint Select Committee shall make recommendations to the legislature on the following:

Membership of the Joint Select Committee on the Early Achievers program includes the following: (a) Chair and ranking minority member of the House of Representatives Appropriations committee; (b) Chair and ranking minority member of the Senate Ways and Means committee; (c) Chair and ranking minority member of the House of Representatives Early Learning and Human Services committee; and (d) Chair and ranking minority member of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education committee.

(3) Funds for the protocol [for the encouragement of culturally diverse and low-income center and family home child care provider participation] shall be appropriated separately from other funds appropriated for the department and may not be used for any other purpose. Funds for the protocol should be considered ongoing for purposes of future budget requests.

(4) Extends the deadline, from February 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019 for existing child care providers serving non-school age children and receiving state subsidy payments to rate at a level 3 or higher in the Early Achievers program. If the provider does not rate a level 3 by December 31, 2019 the provider must complete remedial activities with the Department of Early Learning and rate at a level 3 or higher no later than June 30, 2020.

As amended by the Early Learning and K-12 Committee, the bill: 

Engrossed second substitute HB 1491 as amended (a striking amendment) by Committee on Ways and Means does the following: