Senate Bill No. 217

(By Senators Tomblin, Mr. President, and Sprouse,

By Request of the Executive)


[Originating in the Committee on Education; reported February 29, 2000.]


A BILL to amend chapter five of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated article twenty-six-b, relating to setting forth legislative findings; creating West Virginia educare pilot program within the office of social services, department of health and human resources; providing for appointment and qualifications of a board of directors; describing the powers and duties of the board; providing for reporting and evaluation criteria of program; describing the purposes and responsibilities of educare; establishing a cap on certain administrative costs; providing for phase-in of statewide program only upon certain legislative approval; providing that program does not constitute entitlement; specifying that program be available to all children, ages six months to five years; and abolishing the West Virginia study commission.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter five of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated article twenty-six-b, to read as follows:
§5-26B-1. Title.
This article shall be known and may be cited as the West Virginia educare act pilot program.
§5-26B-2. Legislative findings.
The Legislature finds that:
(a) Recent research on brain development in young children shows that early experiences are important to future social, emotional, physical and cognitive development;
(b) Early childhood development services for families with preschool children are not widely available in the state; and
(c) The state and its people can benefit from a system capable of providing and improving child care and educational opportunities for preschool children, which will stimulate and maximize their growth and development.
§5-26B-3. West Virginia educare pilot program.
The West Virginia educare ("educare") pilot program is hereby created within the office of social services, department of health and human resources, for the purpose of establishing, and coordinating with local areas, a complement to education and child care available to preschool children with the goal of preparing them for school and lifelong learning. Educare programs shall be phased in as funds become available and introduced as pilot operations before statewide implementation is considered. The pilot program provided for in this article shall be established in three counties of the state, which shall represent urban, suburban and rural counties and include a representative cross section of socio-economic levels, as determined by the secretary of the department of health and human resources.
Activities employed by educare in the implementation of its educational programs shall include development of quality standards, review of local collaborative agreements for approval prior to funding, distribution of funds, technical assistance and monitoring of funded programs and development of an evaluation component.
§5-26B-4. Board of directors.
(a) The administrative powers of educare shall be vested in a board of directors consisting of eleven members, including the state superintendent of schools, or his or her designee; the secretary of health and human resources, or his or her designee; the president of the West Virginia head start association, or his or her designee; and eight individuals who shall be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate: Provided, That no more than six members shall be members of the same political party.
The board annually shall elect one of their appointed members as chairman. The board shall appoint a person to serve as secretary and a person to serve as treasurer. The person appointed as treasurer shall give a bond for the faithful performance as his or her duties as custodian of all funds of educare in an amount set by the board. The board may elect such other officers from its staff as it considers proper and prescribe their powers and duties. Appointments to fill a vacancy of one of the appointed members shall be made in the same manner as the original appointment.
(b) All appointed members of the board shall be from the private sector, with at least one member of the board from each congressional district, and shall represent the public interest generally. At least five of the appointed members shall possess appropriate education and professional experience relative to early childhood development.
(c) Appointed members of the board shall not be entitled to compensation for their services but shall be reimbursed for all necessary expenses actually incurred in connection with the performance of their duties as members.
(d) Six members of the board shall constitute a quorum and the affirmative vote of the majority of members present at a meeting of the board shall be necessary and sufficient for any action taken by the board.
§5-26B-5. Powers of the board.
The board shall have the powers necessary or convenient to carry out the purposes and provisions of this article, including, but not limited to, the power:
(a) To establish, organize, promote, manage and oversee the activities of educare and to offer related services through contracted programs;
(b) To encourage the development of collaborative agreements on the community or county level for presentation to the board for approval prior to funding;
(c) To invest its funds at the board's discretion with the West Virginia investment management board in accordance with the provisions of article six, chapter twelve of this code. Any such investments shall be made with the care, skill, prudence and diligence under the circumstances then prevailing that as a prudent person acting in a like capacity and familiar with such matters would use in the conduct of an enterprise of a like character and with like aims;
(d) To distribute funds through contracts, grants and other necessary instruments for necessary goods and services;
(e) To employ necessary personnel and to engage the services of private persons for administrative and technical assistance in carrying out the responsibilities of educare: Provided, That costs incurred pursuant to this subsection shall not exceed ten percent of total appropriations for any fiscal year;
(f) To solicit and accept gifts, including bequests or other testamentary gifts made by will, trust or other disposition, grants, loans and other aids from any source or to participate in any other way in any federal, state or local governmental programs in carrying out the purposes of this article;
(g) To develop and implement standards that apply to all licensed child care providers that operate year-round and which accept children for care five days per week, ten hours per day, and that are consistent with existing federal regulations and state policies and procedures which govern early child care and education services;
(h) To annually evaluate, monitor and ensure compliance with educare policies and procedures, including, but not limited to, authority to withhold payment to providers: Provided, That annual reports are submitted to the office of social services and reviewed in conjunction with on-site visits by that agency to determine compliance;
(i) To assure provision of technical assistance from individuals or entities with appropriate education and professional experience relative to early childhood development;
(j) To develop a phase-in plan for the implementation of educare: Provided, That such plan shall be submitted to the legislative oversight commission on health and human resources accountability for its approval before funds may be appropriated for any statewide phase-in of the educare program;
(k) To establish other policies, procedures and criteria necessary to implement and administer the provisions of this article; and
(l) To develop and implement an evaluation component, to assess the effectiveness of the educare program,
which shall include:
(A) Assessments, with standardized measures, of children before and after an educare experience;
(B) Follow-up of children served on indicators of school functioning, such as standardized test scores, grade retention, special education placement and behavior problems.
§5-26B-6. Board rules.
The board shall propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of article three-a, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code. At a minimum, the rules shall provide for:
(a) Programs that avoid duplication and maximize the effectiveness of qualified existing programs;
(b) The formation of written collaborative agreements among existing licensed child care providers and programs to maximize existing resources and ensure equity in the distribution of funds. The agreement or agreements shall include assessment of existing needs and resources and detail the operational issues and the role of existing service providers under the collaborative agreements;
(c) Maximum utilization of federal, local and private funding so as to complement state funding;
(d) High standards of service and performance for education, child and family care programs;
(e) Full use of existing programs and services that meet relevant standards and are licensed as child care providers by the state and which operate year-round, five days per week, ten hours per day;
(f) Cost effective options that are consistent with the adopted standards;
(g) Evaluation of the results achieved by educare programs; and
(h) Development of a plan for the reasonable implementation of the provisions of the rule.
§5-26B-7. Program not to create an entitlement.
Participation in educare programs shall be made available to all families with young children, ages six months to five years, and shall not create an entitlement to such programs or any services offered within such programs.
§5-26B-8. West Virginia study commission.
The West Virginia study commission on services for young children created pursuant to section eighteen-d, article five, chapter eighteen of this code is hereby abolished.