Winter 2021 Child Care Licensing Newsletter
Happy New Year to All!
2020 began like any other year; and before long, our world changed in drastic ways. I write to you with much appreciation and admiration for the resiliency you have shown throughout this COVID-19 pandemic. Children and families have been well served by all of you in so many ways.
I do have a few child care licensing updates to share with you:
- Child Care Licensing Staffing Changes
- Background Clearance Updates and Tips
- Child Care Licensing Visits
- Current COVID-19 Guidance and FAQs
Child Care Business Technician Kim Jones retired in the fall of 2020. We are pleased to welcome a new Child Care Business Technician: Nate Noble (email@example.com). Nate began with us during the holiday season and has been busy learning the work. Like Kim, he will be processing background clearances and providing technical assistance with licensing applications. For a current list of licensing staff assignment and contact information, please visit our CDD website: https://dcf.vermont.gov/cdd/whos_who#Licensing.
CDD had an FBI fingerprinting audit that required modification of the Record Check Authorization forms. There is now a page 2 that is required to be given to the individual signing the form. Please be sure to print the Record Check Authorization forms from the CDD website. When older versions of the forms are used, they will be returned to you which delays the background clearance process.
I have good news to share with you about recent background clearance processes. Child Care Business Technicians have implemented revisions to our background clearance processes that help ensure Fingerprint Authorization Certificates are issued within 24-hours from when CDD receives a complete and legible Record Check Authorization form. This has been a revision requested by you which we are pleased to say has now been implemented.
In addition, Vermont has begun a final step in fully implementing fingerprint supported background clearances for staff that are employed by licensed child care programs, are in positions allowed to be left alone with children per child care licensing regulations, and/or Family Child Care Home household members who are 18 years old or older. There are up to 10 different databases required by federal regulations to be checked. We are now implementing the clearance process for the final database. You may experience a delay in receiving final decision letters. To maintain regulatory compliance, the child care licensing regulations require an individual needing to submit to fingerprinting not be left alone with children until you receive the final background clearance decision letter. Several past and present DCF leadership staff have advocated extensively over the last several years for modifications to the federal regulations knowing that full implementation in Vermont would impact you. Unfortunately, no revisions in the federal regulations have occurred, and Vermont is required to comply with the federal regulations.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Licensing Field Specialists (Licensors) have performed many child care licensing visits virtually. There are some visits that need to be performed in-person (e.g. compliance visits). Federal regulations require compliance visits be unannounced. If the entrance of your facility or school is staffed by someone who allows entry into the building, please be sure to let this person know about in-person child care licensing visits. If you haven't experienced a licensing visit since March 2020, you may have questions about the procedures Licensors are using for conducting an in-person licensing visit. We have a document titled "What to Expect from a Child Care Licensing Visit During the COVID Crisis" on our CDD website: https://dcf.vermont.gov/cdd/covid-19/cc-programs/licensing. We worked closely with the Vermont Department of Health to develop the procedures shared in this document. In addition, we receive information from the Vermont Department of Health about which child care programs have been recommended to close their program and/or one or more classrooms due to close contact with a COVID positive individual. Licensors use this information to avoid visiting a program that is implementing Vermont Department of Health's closure guidance.
As of 1/4/2021, we posted revised licensing COVID-19 frequently asked questions on our CDD website. We updated information to remain consistent with the Vermont Department of Health's guidance. We also extended the deadline for the Infant/Child CPR and Pediatric First Aid training waiver. See question number 23 for details.
Please continue to use the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) websites for current COVID-19 guidance and for technical assistance tools and resources:
- Main VDH COVID-19 webpage: https://www.healthvermont.gov/covid-19
- Guidance for child care programs: https://www.healthvermont.gov/covid-19/your-community/child-care-programs
- Guidance for schools: https://www.healthvermont.gov/covid-19/your-community/prek-12-schools
- Guidance for families with children: https://www.healthvermont.gov/covid-19/your-community/families-children
In closing, please remember to take good care of yourself and your staff. COVID-19 has impacted all of us in many ways. Good self-care, and seeking resources and supports as needed, will help keep you healthy and strong as we continue to respond to this pandemic. The Vermont Department of Health has a great resource page on this topic: https://www.healthvermont.gov/covid-19/protect-yourself-others/coping-stress, as does the Vermont Department of Mental Health: https://mentalhealth.vermont.gov/Corona-MH.
CDD's Director of Child Care Licensing