Posts Tagged ‘Child Care licensing’

Pre- School & Special Needs Kids

August 13th, 2013

A couple of months ago I heard a story from a parent of a special needs kid who told me that she was trying to find a pre-school- but her kid was denied admission.  She said that the facility told her that our licensing regulations wouldn’t allow the school to admit her child because he or she wasn’t completely potty trained yet- and they didn’t have a changing station in that grade.  Our regulations say no such thing- but I wanted to make it crystal clear for the future that there are plenty of options when it comes to accommodating special needs kids in pre-school. 

To clear up the confusion, we created a substantive policy statement to clarify the issue and we also put together some helpful information to provide some clarity to child care providers and the general public regarding children who have special needs in licensed child care facilities and child care group homes. 

Overall, our child care surveyors are reporting that child care providers have become more confident that they can meet all children’s needs and are enrolling more children with identified special needs than in previous years. We’re partnering with child care providers and continuing to offer technical assistance to support inclusion- making a difference for Arizona’s Children, our most important resource for Arizona’s future.  This new substantive policy statement should help too.

Chalk Up Another Empower Award

February 21st, 2013

This week the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs gave us the National Best Practice Award for our Empower Program.  As a refresher for those of you that aren’t familiar with Empower…  it’s a program we started in 2009 that focuses on increasing healthy eating and active living in our licensed child care facilities… reaching over 200,000 children throughout Arizona. It’s a voluntary program in which childcare licensees receive a discount on their 3-year licensing fee to become Empower centers by pledging to implement the 10 standards to Empower children to live healthier lives.  The Empower Program was submitted by Adrienne Udarbe to AMCHP’s Innovation Station, a searchable database of emerging, promising and best practices in maternal and child health.  Congrats to our Child Care Licensing and Maternal & Child Health programs for changing the landscape in AZ and across the country.

By the way…  our Baby Steps to Breastfeeding is also recognized as an emerging practice by the same group.  That one was won by our Nutrition and Physical Activity shop.  It’s an on-line class for hospitals to use as a refresher class, train newly hired staff, or become a Baby Steps designated hospital.


Child Care Readiness

October 12th, 2011

Ever since 911, there’s been an increased understanding that a strong disaster emergency and evacuation plan is required for any line of business.  Child care is no exception.  Over the last few months, our Child Care Licensing shop took the lead to develop and provide information and training to Arizona child care providers in effective short- and long-term emergency and disaster preparation related to individual facilities within the overall community.  They began their effort by researching and assessing recommendations and best practices nationally.  The areas being targeted as standards include:   

  • A plan for evacuating children in child care:  Developing and maintaining a written emergency plan (policies & procedures that prepare, train and require practice) that ensures health, safety and welfare (shelter in place, lock down and shelter outhost facility), including maintaining (specific) information which will protect children and staff during emergencies.
  • A plan reunifying children and their families after a disaster:  Developing and implementing plans, procedures and back-up plans that includes ways to globally communicate with children and staff’s families and community agencies before, during and after an emergency. 
  • A plan with a focus on children and staff that may have special needs or chronic medical issues and requirements such as transportation, food, etc. before, during and after an emergency.
  • A plan of action for recovery; protection of information and assets to allow for a continuum of care for children and families. 

Our Division of Licensing’s “Emergency Preparedness” web page includes links to existing statewide emergency communication sites, existing pages containing guidance and information for basic emergency preparedness, and to a new web page containing documents, resources and links to disaster and emergency preparation and training specific to the types of facilities licensed by the Department.

Updating AZ Childcare Center Standards

June 15th, 2010

You probably remember how we shifted from general funds to fee-based inspection programs.  The most controversial fee increase was for child care facilities, as the costs of inspecting child care facilities had been almost entirely subsidized by the state’s general fund.  In the end, we found a way to use alternative funding sources to provide a 50% subsidy for the child care licensure fees in exchange for participating in the  Empower Pack program.  After implementing our successful Empower program, a new law was passed (SB 1315) that makes some changes to the way we need to run our child care licensing program.

The new law requires us to conduct a cost analysis of our child care licensing program by February and then review and adjust our fees accordingly.  We can use the exempt rulemaking process to lower, but not raise, the fees. The law gives child care facilities perpetual licenses, in other words they don’t expire.  We still have the authority to revoke or suspend licenses if licensees don’t pay their license fee.  We also need to set up a payment program.  If funding is available, the law says we should convert from 3 year licensure fees to a 1 year fee.  It also requires us to amend the child care center rules by October 1 and amend the child care group home rules by October 1, 2011.  We have a 1-year rulemaking exemption for amending the child care facility and child care group home rules.

You might be out of breath after reading the new requirements, but we’ll continue to do our best.  We’re starting by providing our new draft child care facility rules for comment today.  The newly proposed rules are posted on the AZDHS website.  We’ll have a 30-day comment period that will include public meetings in Tucson and Phoenix. The new child care facility rules are expected to be effective on or before our October 1, 2010 deadline.

New Childcare Center Licensing Rules

April 20th, 2010

Our child care licensing & rules team, along with a long list of Stakeholders, have been working very hard over the last few months to put together a new list of criteria for operating a child care center.  This week, their hard work paid off- and we were able to post a draft of our Child Care Facilities Rulemaking.

The information that you see on the site is the final step in Phase 1 of the rulemaking.  Department will be accepting informal comments until April 27, 2010, after which the Department will review comments that have been submitted, make changes to the draft as necessary, and submit a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

We think that these new rules will be good for kids and public health- while at the same time streamlining the rules that child care center’s need to follow.  We’ve eliminated quite a few unnecessary and burdensome paperwork and administrative obligations for facilities- but at the same time, we’re asking them to incorporate simple but important activities into the kids’ day.

For example, “tummy time” is very important for infants because it helps them develop better gross motor skills, so we’re asking facilities to give kids some “tummy time” every day.  We’re also asking that they be put to sleep on their backs (which helps prevent SIDS), and to make sure that kids less than 2 don’t watch any TV, because watching TV as an infant is a risk factor for developing ADD later in life.  We’ve also included more nutritional criteria, like asking them to work on portion control at mealtime and serve 1% or skim milk for the older kids.  These are just a few examples, but you get the idea.

Basically, we tried to eliminate the unnecessary paperwork that consumes time, but added simple and effective physical activity and nutritional elements.  Thank you all for your help with these rules.  They’re going to make a difference.