This past year has brought several legislative changes impacting child care providers in a variety of ways. In August 2009, the Jalen Knox-Perkins day care van alarm bill went into effect. This law mandates that a child safety alarm be placed in the rear of certain child care vehicles (see our previous blog post here). Act 76, or the caregiver background check law, went into effect February 1, 2010 across the state. The act 1) requires much more frequent criminal background checks for child care providers, 2) bans individuals convicted of certain crimes from holding a child care license, working in a child care facility, or living in a family child care home, and 3) requires the Department of Children and Families to suspend a provider’s license if they are charged with a serious crime and revoke the license if the provider is convicted of the crime (see our previous blog post here). In response to these laws, the Department of Children and Families will be releasing a newly revised set of rules for all child care providers in June.
To receive immediate, electronic notice when this newly revised regulation summary is released, and to receive notices about any future changes that affect the child care field, sign up here to join the Bureau of Early Care Regulation’s email list. Select “regulation and licensing memos” to receive emails notifying you to visit the Department of Children and Families website each time a new memo describing regulation and licensing changes is published (see previously released memos here). Providers will continue to receive paper copies of these memos each time there is a change, but the department is encouraging interested parties to sign-up for emails in case these memos are only distributed electronically in the future.
The Committee on Children and Families and Workforce Development in the Senate will be holding a public hearing on the new waiver legislation (SB 642) this Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 10:10 am in Capitol room 411 South (updated room). Last week, the Assembly Committee on Children and Families heard testimony on the same bill. Providers from across the state joined WECA at this hearing to show their support for the bill. Do you have a response to this new legislation? You can make a statement at the hearing or send Senator Jauch, the chairperson of the Committee, a written statement either in favor of or in opposition to the bill.
Representative Tamara Grigsby and Senator Kathleen Vinehout created this new waiver legislation (AB 887 and SB 642) to change the caregiver background check law, or Act 76, in a variety of ways. According to Representative Grigsby, this bill will “address the most burdensome impact of Act 76, those individuals who have lost or surrendered their licenses due to a financial based crime or public assistance fraud. This bill would allow those individuals whose crimes were committed more than 5 years prior to go through the Department of Children and Families’ rehab/review process and request consideration for reinstatement of their license.”
Since it was enacted in November 2009, Act 76 (or the caregiver background check law), has been met with mixed reactions from the child care field in Wisconsin. The bill- created to increase safety and decrease fraud within child care programs- went into effect February 1, 2010 across the state. The bill includes legislation that 1) requires much more frequent criminal background checks for child care providers, 2) bans individuals convicted of certain crimes from holding a child care license, working in a child care facility, or living in a family child care home, and 3) requires the Department of Children and Families to suspend a provider’s license if they are charged with a serious crime and revoke the license if the provider is convicted of the crime. The bill was passed unanimously in both houses.
When the bill was originally drafted, the list of crimes that would result in a permanent ban from the field was small and included first/second degree reckless or intentional homicide, kidnapping, and armed burglary. During the legislative process, several amendments were approved and additional crimes now carry a permanent ban for licensees or certified providers only. These crimes are broad and include identity theft, felony forgery, felony retail theft, and felony cable theft. As a result, some providers in the field are losing their licenses for nonviolent crimes that they committed many years ago (see article here). DCF has stated that, as of now, 31 licenses have been revoked or surrendered because of Act 76.
Representative Tamara Grigsby, one of the original co-sponsors of the bill, is currently in the process of creating waiver legislation that if passed would allow providers who are affected by Act 76 to apply for a waiver from DCF under certain circumstances (especially for financial related crimes that currently hold a permanent bar). There will hopefully be a public hearing on this legislation by the end of March. Click here to watch Representative Grigsby discuss this issue on Wisconsin Public Television’s Here and Now series. Keep checking our blog for updates on this waiver bill.