This page contains frequently asked questions about the Vermont Child Care Regulations. Below there are links to pages for questions about the specific types of programs, and on this page there are answers to general questions about the regulations. The Child Development Division is collecting questions about the regulations, and working on the answers to questions already received. Each week new questions and answers will be added to these pages and we encourage you to check back to this page. The new questions/answers will be marked each week. If you have questions that has not yet been answered and have not already submitted them to us; please submit the question to us through our Regulation FAQ Survey.
Program Specific Questions
- What is the effective date of regulations?
- Where should I start?
- How do I get information about trainings and updates?
- Are there sample forms I can use?
- Where should I start?
- Any tips for reading the regulations?
- Why are there definitions and how do I use them?
- What resources are available to help me with the regulations?
- What are the rules about nap time?
- What is the orientation training requirement?
- Where can I watch a recording of the Introduction Webinars?
- What is the division's process for background record checks, including fingerprinting?
- What am I required to report to the Child Development Division?
- Do you have more information about the water testing requirements?
- In the summer, how do I know when the heat and humidity is excessive?
- Can you help me understand the lifeguard requirements for swimming?
- What if I need to obtain my high school diploma? Where do I begin?
How do I know for which staff CDD is waiting to receive fingerprinting results? Also is there a way to tell when individuals listed on my program's BFIS list are due to submit a new Record Check Authorization form? *New
What do I do if I don't have the required amount of cushioning material under equipment that allows children to be 30 inches or higher off the ground? Or if I worry about the depth of my cushioning material? *New
These rules will take effect on September 1, 2016. This date has been adopted/finalized by the State of Vermont, and will not change.
- The place to begin is to read the new regulations.
- As you read, make a note of the rules you will want to review again later. You may simply have a question about the rule or you may need to make a modification to your program.
- You may find it helpful to re-read different sections. The more you read them, the more familiar you will become with them, as they apply to your program. You will start to think of ways to ensure compliance that works for your program.
- We recommend that you have read the rules a few times before attending any training. Trainings will be more beneficial if you have read the rules and start becoming familiar with them.
Watch for emails from the Child Development Division! We will continue to provide updates to frequently asked questions, training announcements, posting of sample forms and handbooks, and etcetera. As resources become available, we will share this information with you through emails. To sign up to receive emails go to: http://vermont.us5.list-manage1.com/subscribe?u=9a6aebfc0a6fe752e7e9ec925&id=69d30bf5e4
Implementing new regulations is a process that involves us all working and learning together. While September 1, 2016 is the date when we start using the new rules, the trainings will be ongoing in the fall, guidance manuals will be shared in the winter, and licensing staff will be working to support programs achieving compliance over the next year.
The Child Development Division is developing sample forms that will be posted to our website. Feel free to use these forms, modify them, or to create your own.
If you need to make changes, start with those things that are clear and straightforward. Help staff enroll in needed trainings; identify files needed for staff, etc. Next, develop a plan for those items that require multiple steps such as saving money before making a purchase. Some rules will require you to work closely with other organizations to develop plans for meeting the rules. Get started on the things that will take time and organization so you continue to move towards compliance.
- Remember to use definitions when reading a licensing rule. This information can be helpful in providing clarity to a rule.
- The rule has to state 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 simply required that you have documentation. You can decide how you want to maintain that documentation, such as electronically or in written format.
- Read the whole rule. While one part may be more applicable to you or your program, there may be additional information relevant in the second or third sentence within the rule.
- Read all the rules because some clarifications can be found in a combination of rules.
Definitions were developed for words or terms that are unique to the regulations and child care industry, such as Family Child Care Provider, Teacher Associate, or the word Sensory.
Words like “substantial compliance”, were not defined specifically in the rules, as the common definition found in our dictionaries and language has the same interpretation. (Dictionary definition: substantial compliance means a level of compliance with the requirements of participation such that any identified deficiencies pose no greater risk to health or safety than the potential for causing minimal harm.)
Definitions in Section 2.2 of the FCCH and CBCCPP regulations are to be used to understand how the words or terms are being used within other licensing rules and are not useful by themselves. For example, the definition of the word sensory in Section 2.2 is meaningless until you use it in the Rule 126.96.36.199.3 (of the FCCH and CBCCPP regulations).
There are many resources available to support child care providers in coming into compliance with the regulations. This document contains some resources, but is not a complete list at this point. Resources for New Child Care Regulations Document.
Licensing requires that children who require rest be allowed to rest. Licensing does not require children to rest who do not need. See FCCH/CBCCPP Rule 188.8.131.52 which says “Children who do not sleep shall be provided space and equipment for quiet play.” The rules do not base this on children’s ages because a three-year-old may still take a two-hour nap while another three-year-old stopped taking naps several months prior.
FCCH/CBCCPP 184.108.40.206 requires children under 12 months use a port-a-crib or crib unless they are able to climb out. The rule doesn’t prevent cribs or port-a-cribs being used for children over 12 months. For children over 12 months, you need to consult with the manufacturer’s instructions to determine age or weight limits for using port-a-cribs or cribs with older infants.
FCCH / CBCCPP Rule 7.1.3 is required to be completed by everyone. The Child Development Division is working on developing an Orientation that will be approved for everyone to complete. Once this is available, we will notify everyone. We know it will take time for all providers and staff employed prior to 9/1/2016 to complete this requirement over the next year.
CDD conducted two webinars as an introduction to the child care regulations. One for Family Child Care Home Programs on August 17, 2016, and one for Center Based Child Care and Preschool Programs on August 18, 2016. The webinars are available on the division's YouTube channel.
- Family Child Care Home Regulations Introduction webinar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShfndzJVosI
- Center Based Child Care and Preschool Program Regulations Introduction webinar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zntY9tOzCRg
New federal requirements mandate that every state implement fingerprinting requirements that meet specific federal requirements. Vermont is required to meet the federal requirements for fingerprinting in order to maintain the millions of federal dollars we receive annually to support the college tuition grants and quality bonuses for programs and individuals, and the Child Care Financial Assistance Program. In the fall of 2016 the division is only requiring fingerprint supported background checks of Prequalified Prekindergarten programs. Programs who are not prequalified will be notified when they will need to prepare for fingerprint supported checks.
The background check process is a two-step process. The first step will be to complete the current record check authorization form. The Child Development Division will continue to process these forms at this first step similar to how we do currently. If someone is identified as prohibited at this first step, the FCCP / CBCCPP licensee will be notified immediately. If the individual passes this first step and the Division determines that the individual is required by regulation for fingerprinting, then the Division will send a fingerprinting certificate to the program. Once the program receives the fingerprint certificate an appointment at an Approved Identification Center. It is important to remember that not everyone will be required to complete fingerprinting.
The great news is that we are developing a system in which an individual will only need to have a background check processed once every 5 years. If an individual becomes employed at a different program or is affiliated with more than one program; we will be able to use the individual’s last background clearance information including fingerprinting data (without having to require new fingerprinting) if the existing data is less than 5 years old.
For more information about the exclusion criteria CDD uses for background record checks click here.
- CBCCPP Rule 220.127.116.11 and FCCH Rule 18.104.22.168 state that reports required to be made to CDD need to be made electronically in the program’s BFIS account. At the bottom of the program’s BFIS “Account Summary” screen, there are a variety of options that provide notifications to CDD such as “Incident Report,” “Closure Notification,” and “Director Change Notification.” When you select the type of notification that applies and submit it, the notification is sent directly to your Licenser who reviews it and follows up as necessary. If you need assistance accessing your program’s BFIS account, use this link (http://dcf.vermont.gov/childcare/providers/bfis).
- For registered FCCH, there are new rules regarding what is required to report to CDD. The rules in section 3.1 of the FCCH regulations identify all the times when you are required to notify CDD. For example, FCCH rule 3.1.3 requires you notify CDD within 48 hours if there has been a fire in the home that has required either a fire extinguisher or services from a fire department. Your Licenser will review your options and provide technical assistance.
For CBCCPP and licensed FCCH applicants, the applications provide the guidance regarding water permits. Whether water permits are required is determined by the Agency of Natural Resources. This has always been a component of these applications and is not a new process.
All programs are required to have at least an initial lead water test even if you are on public water. (See FCCP rules 22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199, and 188.8.131.52.1 or see CBCCPP rules 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11, and 18.104.22.168.1) This test will check whether your pipes in your home are adding lead to your water. Whether you need to repeat the test annually or not depends on whether your initial test results were at or higher than the legal limit. If the test results were at or higher than the legal limit, then you are required to repeat this test annually.
If programs are on a public water system, then the water is tested periodically to ensure it continues to be safe drinking water. When a program is not on a public water system, then the program is required to test the water to ensure it is safe drinking water. When water testing it required the water testing must be completed even if you only provide bottled water. Water tests can be obtained at the Vermont Department of Health. Ask for the child care water test kit.
There are multiple different ways to protect children from excessive heat and humidity. First, check the weather using a weather channel and be aware of weather alerts. When outside, ensure children have access to plenty of drinking water and shade. Some signs to be aware of include sweating, red skin, rapid breathing, and sluggish behavior. These are signs that require additional action - take a water break, remove layers, seek shade, or return inside earlier than planned. Observing a child is the best measure (especially when children have medical conditions such as asthma) to keep children safe. Water play and/or swimming is another way to keep children cool while playing outside on hot days.
Afterschool Programs (ASP) are required to have a lifeguard on duty. Center Based Child Care and Preschool Programs (CBCCPP) are only required to have a lifeguard on duty when 13 or more children are swimming. Family Child Care Homes (FCCH) have an option as to whether to have a lifeguard or not. When CBCCPPs and FCCHs do not have a lifeguard, the staff: child ratios are smaller so staff are able to provide supervision that ensures children's safety.
When Afterschool Programs (ASP) and Center Based Child Care and Preschool Programs (CBCCPP) use lifeguards, the lifeguard is required to be assigned to a maximum number of children. This is often problematic if the swimming location (e.g. town pool or beach) provides a lifeguard because these lifeguards are assigned to a much larger number of swimmers. If an ASP or CBCCPP has arranged with the swimming location for the lifeguard to be solely assigned to the maximum number of ASP or CBCCPP children (per ASP rule 16.3 or CBCCP rule 22.214.171.124.4), then this meets the licensing regulations. Typically, ASPs and CBCCPPs have their own staff who hold lifeguard certifications to ensure regulatory compliance.
Certification requirements for lifeguard training are important. These certification requirements ensure that lifeguards are properly trained in a variety of emergencies. Drowning is the third leading cause of injury or death of children in the U.S. Most children drown within a few feet of safety. The major causes of drowning are inability to swim, unsupervised swimming, lack of safety guidelines, and inadequate supervision of children. CDD stands firm on the required certification training requirements outlined in licensing regulations.
Some FCCPs have said they can't afford to hire someone trained as a lifeguard to supervise swimming. Others have said they can't afford to hire a Family Child Care Assistant who meets qualifications and annual professional development requirements to assist with supervision during swimming. If you find yourself not able to meet the ratio requirements or lifeguard requirements, you may want to be creative with other water play activities. For example, playing with a slip-n-slides or sprinklers and/or using wade pools or water tables. There are many ways to have fun with water in the summer.
There are adult education and literacy organizations across Vermont that available to assist you with obtaining a high school diploma. They have two programs that assist with this:
- High School Completion Program (HSCP) in which you create your plan in partnership with a Vermont Adult Learning Plan Manager, with approval from your local high school. Starting with your high school transcript as a baseline, you can integrate courses, workshops, internships, projects as well as paid employment into your graduation plan based on your individual skills, needs and goals. You can even take college courses for free while pursing your high school diploma. The result… a high school diploma from your local high school!
- General Educational Development (GED) is a high school equivalency test that measures skills required by high schools and requested by colleges and employers. This includes 4 tests: Science, Social Studies, Mathematical Reasoning, and Reasoning Through Language Arts.
To learn which program is best suited for helping you obtain your high school diploma, please go to the Vermont Agency of Education website at http://education.vermont.gov/student-support/adult-education/local-services. There are 10 full-service centers and several satellite centers across the state. To find the center closest to you, go to the website and scroll down to the list of counties. Click on your county or the county closest to you and you will be given the contact information for the organization in that area. There are four different organizations that work with the Agency of Education to provide these services.
Is my staff and/or I required to send our high school diplomas or GED certificates to Northern Lights at CCV to be entered into our BFIS Quality and Credential accounts?
If you meet qualifications for your position because of higher education (e.g. CDA, college course work, a college degree, etcetera), then you only need to send the documentation related to the higher education to Northern Lights at CCV to be entered into your BFIS Quality and Credential account.
If you or your staff meet qualifications by having a high school diploma or GED certificate, then yes, the high school diploma or GED certificate is required to be sent to Northern Lights at CCV using the Verification Cover Sheet (http://dcf.vermont.gov/cdd/professional-development) which is the last link in the 2nd paragraph on this CDD webpage. It is important to carefully follow instructions on the Verification Cover Sheet when using it.
- Licensing staff will be looking to see that this is in your and/or staff's BFIS Quality and Credential accounts.
- Northern Lights at CCV staff will document the high school diploma or GED certificate in the "Education" tab as well as upload it into the "Documents" section of the BFIS Quality and Credential account.
- High Schools are required by law to maintain every student’s high school diploma and to provide a copy free of charge upon request.
There are several common mistakes we see on a weekly basis. Here's some common guidance we routinely share with programs and providers:
- Providing an email address on the Record Check Authorization form is a requirement. Please be sure to print clearly so numbers, letters, spaces, periods and etcetera are easy to read. We have a high volume of emails bounced back to the Division due to incorrect email addresses listed and/or not able to be easily read.
- Staff should be left on the program's BFIS list even if they are seasonal staff. For example, Joe Fox works during summer months only. He should be left on the program's BFIS list until you know that he is no longer returning. Even if you have a practice of "rehiring" staff each year, licensing considers these staff continually employed even if they are not working for a certain number of months during the year. Another example would be an adult child who is away at college during the school year and returns to your family child care home during summer months and school vacations. This adult child should remain on your program's BFIS list until he/she moves out of your family child care home and has a permanent address elsewhere.
- When someone needs to complete a Record Check Authorization form, please always print new copies from the Division's website at http://dcf.vermont.gov/cdd/forms-child-care-providers. This ensures you have the most current version of the form. Please recycle any copies you have saved in a folder or file as they may be outdated. Sometimes the edits we make are very subtle and challenging to identify so you may think your copies are of the current version when they are outdated.
- Individuals filling out the Record Check Authorization form should always use their full, legal name on the form. For example, Kimberly is the full, legal name not Kim. If there are aliases such as Kim, this should be noted where it asks for other names used.
Yes, it is helpful for you and licensing staff, who are responsible for assessing compliance to a variety of licensing regulations, if the employment start date is correct in BFIS. For steps on how to correct the employment start date, use the "Updating Staff/Associated Party Information in BFIS" fact sheet on the Division's website: http://dcf.vermont.gov/childcare/providers/bfis.
How do I know for which staff CDD is waiting to receive fingerprinting results? Also is there a way to tell when individuals listed on my program's BFIS list are due to submit a new Record Check Authorization form?
These are great questions!
If you don't have a checklist for noting
- which staff have received their Fingerprint Authorization Certificate form,
- when staff tell you they have submitted to fingerprinting, and
- when you have received a final background clearance letter from the Division;
it will be difficult for you to figure it out on your own. We recommend you call or email your licensing technician (http://dcf.vermont.gov/cdd/whos_who). They can review your program's BFIS list and let you know for whom the Division has yet to receive fingerprint results.
The good news is that each year you will receive an Annual Requirements Letter through your program's BFIS account. If there are any individuals on your program's BFIS list that are due for a 5 year background clearance renewal, these individuals will be listed in your Annual Requirements letter. Because we have just finished running all background clearances, it will be a few years before you see anyone listed. When you do, please have those individuals fill out a new Record Check Authorization form and send it to your licensing technician.
What do I do if I don't have the required amount of cushioning material under equipment that allows children to be 30 inches or higher off the ground? Or if I worry about the depth of my cushioning material?
No worries, if you don't have the required amount of cushioning material. You may leave the equipment in place or remove it. To be in compliance, you will only need to ensure children do not use the equipment until you do have the required amount of cushioning material. Please refer to the Public Playground Safety Handbook for guidance on determining the required amount of cushioning material (https://www.cpsc.gov/safety-education/safety-guides/playgrounds). How much you need depends on the height of the equipment and the type of cushioning material being used.
Most of the time, cushioning material does need to be maintained in some way. It may be moved around and need to be raked back into place. It may decompose and need more added. It may become impacted and need to be fluffed. Having a process for checking for these things helps you maintain compliance with the licensing regulation. If you are not able to immediately fix the depth (e.g. you need to purchase more material), just have a process for having children play in other ways while outside. If children aren't using it, you are in compliance with licensing regulations.
A reminder that there are hundreds of outdoor toys, materials, games, and exploration for children to play. Teaching children about safety and being able to create new play ideas are valuable life skills for them to learn.
Licensing regulations do require staff have their BFIS Quality and Credential accounts up-to-date with how they meet qualifications and with documentation of having completed required professional development.
Staff use their BFIS Quality and Credential account to document their IPDP, how they meet qualifications, what they have completed for annual professional development, when they have completed other required professional development, accessing their background clearance letters and Fingerprint Authorization Certificate forms needed to submit to fingerprinting, and more. Helping staff learn how to use this account will support them in this profession.
There are 2 resource tools on the Division's website (http://dcf.vermont.gov/childcare/providers/bfis) called "BFIS Credential Account Power Point" and "BFIS Quality-Credential Account Fact Sheet" that will help staff learn more.
Northern Lights at CCV staff are always available to assist staff with this. You or staff may call or email Northern Lights at CCV any time using the Professional Development Hotline listed on the Division's website at http://dcf.vermont.gov/cdd/professional-development.
Ensuring staff use the "Professional Development Verification Cover Sheet" (http://dcf.vermont.gov/cdd/forms-child-care-providers) helps them submit documents to be uploaded to their BFIS Quality and Credential accounts. Sometimes, staff benefit from having you read the instructions on the verification cover sheet with them.
For coaching on career planning, finding training options, learning about funding resources, and other professional development questions; staff may want to call their local Northern Lights at CCV Resource Advisor. Resource Advisors serve more than one area so find the listing closest to your town (https://northernlightscdc.org/about-vnl/contact-us/
Interestingly, fire safety rules seem to be common violations cited. For FCCHs this includes not having fire extinguishers inspected annually with a tag that shows when the last inspection was completed. Please remember to have fire extinguishers inspected every year. Mark your calendars for next year's inspection after this year's inspection has been completed.
The other common fire safety rule cited as non-compliance is evacuation drills. All program types are required to do evacuation drills monthly and to document when the drill has been completed. Violations are often cited for either not completing drills monthly or for not documenting the ones that have been completed. We know that you may be required by AOE or have your own quality standards to do other types of emergency drills during the year (e.g. lock down) too. Please remember that the licensing regulations requires evacuation drills be completed monthly separate from other safety drills.
Most programs are doing an evacuation drill at the end of nap time instead of at the beginning or middle of nap time. When evacuation drills are being done monthly as required, children know what to expect. So when it is done once a year at nap time, children are familiar with what is happening and what to do. We've asked several programs how this went. They said that they were surprised by how well it went and said that children had their normal reactions.