Thursday, December 13, 2012

Updated school-age licensing rules take effect Dec. 20

Updated rules for licensed school-age child care go into effect on Dec. 20. The revised school-age licensing WAC 170-297 will replace the previous school-age center requirements, WAC 170-151. The revised rules pertain to the 450 licensed school-age programs around the state, which serve up to 20,000 children ages 5 through 12 with before- and after-school care. The rules were last updated in 2001.

The updated rules are better aligned with DEL's other child care licensing rules, and reflect more recent research. Key changes in the updated rules include:
  • Updates to water safety requirements, including adding a requirement of minimum staff-to-child ratio of 1:10 during water activities.
  • More information about guidance and discipline, including positive options for discipline and ways to help ensure bullying does not occur in the program.
  • Allowing use of public transportation, so long as children are supervised at all times and required staff-to-child ratios are maintained.
  • Updates to lighting safety requirements, including adding a requirement for either shatter-resistant light bulbs or shatter-resistant light coverings on ceiling-mounted light fixtures.
  • Requiring licensees to share more information with families about the program's program philosophy (view of child learning and development).
  • Information about use of private wells for water.
  • Updated information about smoking in or near the licensed space.
  • Updated information about first-aid kits.
  • Adding a requirement for ground cover in fall zones near swings and play equipment.
  • Adding limitations to screen time.
  • New rules regarding satellite kitchens.
  • Increasing education requirements for program directors.

The Department of Early Learning (DEL) began the process of updating these rules in 2009, when we contracted with School's Out Washington to create recommendations for the rules. School's Out Washington brought together key stakeholders to deliver these recommendations to DEL.

DEL filed formal proposed rules on Sept. 5, 2012, and held public hearings in Seattle and Yakima. We also accepted comments online.View a list of those comments and how they informed the rules.
School-age providers who have questions should contact their licensor.

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