We are writing you today to address questions that some have expressed regarding a few new policies that may (or may not) have been communicated to you via state regulators.
These issues fall into two separate buckets:
1. Federal Background Check Requirements
You may have received from your DCFS field representatives guidance regarding background check requirements for programs that receive Child Care Development Block Grants (CCDBG). These funds, which are backed by Federal dollars, are subject to federal regulations on this front that are outside the scope of state government policymaking. It is our understanding that directives related to these funds only apply to programs that elect to receive CCDBG. If you run a program that does not accept or rely on this funding, those federal guidelines would not apply to your program.
Others have raised questions about the impact of how these federal-based directives would apply to programs that have applied for and received different federal funding via Child Care Restoration Grants — which are part of COVID 19 relief programs. We have reached out to DHS, which manages that program, to get a clear answer. As soon as we have a definitive answer, we will let you know as soon as possible.
2. New Training Requirements
Some (again, not necessarily all) of you have received notifications about a new training standard that requires all licensed day care center directors and classroom staff to participate in at least one training that includes the topics of “early childhood social emotional learning, infant and early childhood mental health, early childhood trauma, or adverse childhood experiences.” Further, such training must be complete no later than July 1 of this year, and must be repeated every three years.
Our staff has looked into this issue and can report the following:
a) This requirement, of which we were informed recently, is the result of a law that was buried in a large bill unrelated to childcare and signed by the Governor in April 2021 — when our focus was almost entirely directed at keeping doors open during the heart of the pandemic.
b) In addition, this guidance comes with no clear direction of where to access such training, or how the administration hopes to implement this policy in under 5 weeks.
As follow-up, our team has reached out to representatives of DCFS and DHS to
gain clarity on these questions. In addition, we are specifically requesting an extension for compliance given the very short time frame between when our industry was informed of this new requirement, and when it is supposed to be completed.
Finally, please know that our team is presently working on a comprehensive request to the administration to not only clear up these questions, but to also commit to working more closely with our industry on the development and rollout of new policies that impact our industry, improve communication with the front lines of our industry, and at long last, adopt new policy that will help ease the staffing crisis that has plagued us for years.
As we receive more information on this issues, we will let you know immediately.
In addition, we expect that our formal correspondence to the administration will be complete in the coming days, at which time we will share it with the membership.
In the meantime, if you have additional questions, please reach out to our State Coordinator, Dezaray Brookshire, at 217-273-5345 and we will work to get you the answers you need.