Thursday, June 20, 2013

DEL prepares plan for potential government shut down July 1

State agencies, including the Department of Early Learning (DEL), have prepared and submitted plans to Gov. Jay Inslee in the event the Legislature does not pass the 2013-15 operating budget by July 1. July 1 is when the new fiscal year and biennium begins.

State agencies may not deliver programs and services after July 1 without a final budget, unless those services:
  1. Are funded by appropriations in the enacted transportation budget.
  2. Do not require an appropriation, (come from non-appropriated funds).
  3. Are required by constitutional mandates and federal law.
  4. Are necessary for the immediate response to issues of public safety, or to avoid catastrophic loss of state property.
While the work we do at DEL is critical to our state’s vitality and economic success, our programs and services do not meet these legal and constitutional criteria. Therefore, as of July 1, if there is no final budget:
  • We will temporarily lay off all staff except two child care licensors, who will be available to respond only to child care licensing emergencies.
  • Child care subsidies starting July 1: Child care subsidy payments for care provided in July will cease. This includes Working Connections and seasonal child care subsidies. If child care providers opt to continue caring for children who receive subsidies, the state most likely cannot legally retroactively pay for that care.
  • Child care subsidies prior to July: Payments will be made to providers who bill for care that was provided prior to July 1. Those payments may be delayed.
  • We will be working with our contractors to suspend or terminate agency contracts. Because home visiting services are non-appropriated until Senate Bill 5809 takes effect on July 28, those services may continue to be delivered until that date. Every other program and service funded by DEL will be suspended.
While a government shutdown is unlikely, we must prepare for this scenario. You can find agencies’ contingency plans on the Governor’s Office of Financial Management website.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Early learning bills passed the Legislature, signed into law--what happens now?

Every year, DEL tracks and weighs in on bills in the Legislature that affect early learning in Washington, and we update bills’ status throughout the session on our website.

But what happens after the bills are signed into law? DEL is posting the implementation plans for the bills that require our action. In some cases, it may be a matter of DEL updating a policy or rule in order to comply with the new law. In other cases, the bill may require DEL to form a work group or to institute changes with partner agencies like the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).
Here are a few examples:
House Bill 1203 allows DEL to exempt personal information relating to children from public inspection and copying. That means that when citizens request public records from DEL, we are allowed to redact children’s identifying information from the records before we release them. Previously, we had to ask the requester’s permission and if the requester declined, we attempted to notify the children’s parents or guardians by mail and give them time to file a court injunction (we explained the bill in more detail in this blog post). You can read how DEL plans to implement the new law, which in this case means we will update our policies and procedures and be ready to go on July 28 when the bill takes effect.

Senate Bill 5595, concerning child care reform,  requires DEL and DSHS to train employees who work with families who apply for or receive child care subsidy; change rules, policies and procedures that apply to Working Connections Child Care subsidy program; and participate in a legislative task force that will look at child care improvements. More detail on how we will do that work is in the implementation plan.
You can see all of our 2013 early learning legislation implementation plans on the DEL website. We will continue to post them as they are completed.