Child Care Licensing Summer Newsletter
Before we talk about exciting news regarding new licensing rules, we need your assistance with an important safety issue. In the last few weeks, we have had multiple incidences of children walking away from their program (home, center based, and school based). The increase of these incidences is unusual and concerning. In several instances, this has included a child leaving the building and being later located outside. While supervision is a fundamental responsibility, we can never review supervision practices frequently enough. Please take some time to reflect on your supervision practices; and if you have staff, review this with them too. It takes less than 30 seconds for a child to slip around a corner and be out of sight. Frequent head counts; bells on doors; and positioning oneself to be facing the children when performing caregiving responsibilities, meeting children’s needs, or intervening in children’s conflicts are some essential practices that support supervision.
In this edition:
- Child Care Licensing Regulations Update
- Did you know?
- Licensor visits to local swimming locations
- Sun protection and hazards
- Common violations
- Reporting an incident to CDD
- Definition of school age child
Congratulations to all of you who have supported the process of developing new licensing rules for center based and home programs! This has included participation in monthly work groups that lasted about a year, public feedback provided, participation in public hearings or LCAR hearings, and/or participation in providing information about your program. The past several years has been a lot of work updating licensing rules that were over 15 years old.
With 9/1/2016 approaching, many of us have questions about the new Center Based Child Care and Preschool Program (CBCCPP) and Family Child Care Home (FCCH) regulations. Let’s begin thinking about 9/1/2016 as part of a continuum. Currently, Licensing Staff are supporting next steps in a variety of ways. We are working with developers to support changes to BFIS to support licensing rules. We are drafting policies and procedures to respond to licensing rules (ie: how programs will submit a request to have violations removed from the public portal, CBCCPP and FCCH 2.8.3, AS 18.67). We are training Licensing Field Specialists and Licensing Technicians on how to apply licensing rules to their work and developing consistency to be able to answer questions about licensing rules. We are also starting to develop trainings that will be available online and in the community for providers, directors, administrators, and staff of CBCCPP and FCCH programs.
In the meantime, you are starting to read the licensing rules and have questions. Here’s some tips to get you started:
- We will mail a copy of the licensing rules to each licensed or registered program on July 25th. Copies may be emailed from or printed from the Division’s website (http://dcf.vermont.gov/cdd/laws-regs). Also, additional copies will be available at local Resource Agencies after July 28th.
- There is an online tool to collect your questions so we can develop a series of Frequently Asked Question responses to help guide your understanding while Licensing staff are being trained. Here’s the link to submit questions about the new FCCH and CBCCPP licensing rules: http://dcf.vermont.gov/cdd/laws-regs
- Tips for reading licensing rules:
- Remember to use definitions when reading a licensing rule. This can be very helpful with providing clarity.
- The rule has to say it in order for it to be required/true. For example, if the rule doesn’t say that the documentation has to be in paper form, then it is optional to have documentation in a written or electronic format.
- Read the whole rule. While one part may be more applicable to you or your program, there may be additional information also relevant in the second or third sentence within the rule.
- Also read all rules because some clarifications are in a combination of rules such as the rule that states required documentation must be kept for 1 year. This is its own rule and applies to all required documentation which are separate rules.
Here’s what you may want to know right now:
- FCCH or CBCCPP
- Rule FCCH and CBCCPP 126.96.36.199.3 speaks to protecting children from hazards when they are playing outside. One option, for protecting children from hazards, identified in this rule is a fence. This rule also states or “otherwise protected” which means options other than a fence may be acceptable. First, assess what if any hazards exist in and/or around the outside area. Hazards may include water (ie: pool, river, stream), traffic, train tracks, and etcetera. Next, assess what protection exists other than supervision. For example, there may be a pool which has a fence around it and a locked gate. Children playing outside are not able to access the pool because of the fence and locked gate. Another example may be the driveway which is separated from the outside play area by the house and shrub line.
This will be the second summer in which Licensers have been asked to visit some common local swimming places. Please don’t be surprised if a Licenser approaches you for a compliance visit at a local swimming place while you are on a field trip. Licensers will have their State of Vermont identification and will be reviewing compliance to related health and safety rules, swimming regulatory requirements, and rules related to field trips. Supervision is critical at all times when children are playing in and around water. A drowning child may not make noise especially if they have fallen and bumped their head. Please review safety tips when allowing children to play in and around water.
- Sunny summers remind us to be sure all children have clothing that protects them from the sun, have had sunscreen applied evenly and thoroughly, and that children have plenty of access to drinking water. Also, please remember to keep sunscreen out of the reach of children per the instructions on sunscreen labels. As we think about hazards to keep out of the reach of children, it is important to remind ourselves that this includes backpacks and diaper bags that may have medication and other hazards stored in them. This is also true of adults’ bags and/or purses that frequently contain medications and other hazards.
- Shaving cream is considered a toxic substance. If you read the label, it states it should be kept out of the reach of children. It is common to think of shaving cream as a fun sensory or art material. Unfortunately, using shaving cream is a safety hazard placing children at risk. There are lots of other items that could be used in place of shaving cream such as whip cream, ooblek, sand, mud, and many more creative ideas that are safe, fun, and support children’s exploration and fine motor skills. We encourage you to explore ideas and find new ways to support sensory play and exploration.
A common violation lately are epi-pens and inhalers which do not have a prescription label as required by licensing rules. Please be sure that parents bring you the box which contains the required prescription label or that parents have had pharmacists place the prescription label directly on the product itself. Check your medicines and see if you need to obtain a prescription label prior to your next licensing compliance visit.
If an incident occurs in your program which is required by your licensing rules to notify CDD and/or you have an incident about which you want to notify CDD, please submit this notification through your program’s BFIS account. Log into your programs BFIS account, scroll down the Account Summary screen and select the option to submit an incident report. Once you submit this, your Licenser will receive it and review it. If your Licenser has questions and/or follow up is needed, your Licenser will contact you for this. Thank you for thinking to notify CDD when a significant incident occurs and notification isn’t mandatory. We appreciate this collaboration.
Programs with Afterschool licenses are specifically licensed to serve school age children. A school age child is defined as “a child who is five years of age or older and currently attending kindergarten or has completed kindergarten or a higher grade.” (AS Rule 2.42) Please note that by definition a 5 year old that has not started kindergarten is not considered a school age child. If a school or any program is seeking to provide afterschool care to children who are preschool age (which includes 3-5 year olds who have not started kindergarten), then it is required to have an Early Childhood Program license. It may be helpful to know that an Early Childhood Program may serve school age children if approved by CDD and noted on the license.
We look forward to an exciting summer as we partner with you to learn new licensing rules and ensure children are receiving safe and healthy child care and educational services.