Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Governor signs three child care licensing bills

Governor Gregoire just finished signing three bills that will help support safe child care settings and improve efficiency in our licensing practice.

Senate Bill 5504, known as the Colby Thompson Act, is meant to help crack down on unlicensed child care in Washington. It requires that DEL post on our website information about individuals who have not started the licensing process within 30 days of being notified that they are offering illegal, unlicensed care. The bill also boosts the potential penalty for family home child care providers offering unlicensed care from $75 per day to $150 per day. (Center penalties remain at $250 per day.) The bill was sponsored by Sen. Tracey Eide.

Under House Bill 1903, DEL will create a portable background check registry by July 1, 2012. After clearing a background check, child care licensees and their employees will be issued a three-year clearance card, which they can use at various child care facilities. This will help employees who wish to work in more than one place, and will help licensees by not requiring them to wait for a new hire’s background check to clear. The bill has protections to ensure DEL is made aware if something happens that could change an individual’s cleared background check status.

This bill also will require all individuals newly working in licensed child care starting July 1, 2012, who may have unsupervised access to children in care to undergo a fingerprint-based criminal background check. This currently is required only of individuals who have lived in the state less than three years. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Tina Orwall.

Senate Bill 5625 moves Washington to a non-expiring child care license system for those licensed providers in good standing. DEL will continue to monitor licensed family homes at least once every 18 months, and licensed centers at least once a year. However, licensees in good standing will no longer have to go through the reapplication process every three years. This will streamline paperwork for providers and for DEL. We will use any time saved to work with providers on offering quality care, to meet our GMAP licensing measures, and to do our other licensing-related functions.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Nick Harper (Rep. Mary Helen Roberts sponsored the House version).

Big day for child care in Washington!

DEL Director Bette Hyde joins Governor Gregoire, Senator Nick Harper and others for the signing of Senate Bill 5625.

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