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.