(1) High quality early childhood development substantially improves the intellectual and social potential of children and reduces societal costs;
(2) A child care program quality rating and improvement system provides incentives and resources to improve the quality child care programs; and
(3) A child care program quality rating and improvement system provides information about the quality of child care programs to parents so they may make more informed decisions about the placement of their children.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to require the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources promulgate a legislative rule and establish a plan for the phased implementation of a child care program quality rating and improvement system not inconsistent with the provisions of this article.
(c) The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources shall create a Quality Rating and Improvement System Advisory Council to provide advice on the development of the rule and plan for the phased implementation of a child care program quality rating and improvement system and the ongoing program review and policies for quality improvement. The secretary shall facilitate meetings of the advisory council. The advisory council shall include representatives from the provider community, advocacy groups, the Legislature, providers of professional development services for the early childhood community, regulatory agencies and others who may be impacted by the creation of a quality rating and improvement system.
(d) Nothing in this article requires an appropriation, or any specific level of appropriation, by the Legislature.
(1) A four-star rating system for registered family child care homes and a four-star rating system for all licensed programs, including family child care facilities and child care centers, to easily communicate to consumers four progressively higher levels of quality child care. One star indicating meeting the minimum acceptable standard and four stars indicating meeting or exceeding the highest standard. The system shall reflect the cumulative attainment of the standards at each level and all lesser levels: Provided, That any program accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the National Association for Family Child Care, as applicable, shall automatically be awarded four-star status;
(2) Program standards for registered family child care homes and program standards for all licensed programs, including family child care facilities and child care centers, that are each divided into four levels of attributes that progressively improve the quality of child care beginning with basic state registration and licensing requirements at level one, through achievement of a national accreditation by the appropriate organization at level four. Participation beyond the first level is voluntary. The program standards shall be categorized using the West Virginia State Training and Registry System Core Knowledge Areas or its equivalent;
(3) Accountability measures that provide for a fair, valid, accurate and reliable assessment of compliance with quality standards, including, but not limited to:
(A) Evaluations conducted by trained evaluators with appropriate early childhood education and training on the selected assessment tool and with a demonstrated inter-rater reliability of eighty-five percent or higher. The evaluations shall include an on-site inspection conducted at least annually to determine whether programs are rated correctly and continue to meet the appropriate standards. The evaluations and observations shall be conducted on at least a statistically valid percentage of center classrooms, with a minimum of one class per age group;
(B) The use of valid and reliable observation and assessment tools, such as environmental rating scales for early childhood, infant and toddler, school-age care and family child care as appropriate for the particular setting and age group;
(C) An annual self-assessment using the proper observation and assessment tool for programs rated at two stars; and
(D) Model program improvement planning shall be designed to help programs improve their evaluation results and level of program quality.
(b) The rules required pursuant to this section shall include policies relating to the review, reduction, suspension or disqualification of child care programs from the quality rating and improvement system.
(c) The rules shall provide for implementation of the statewide quality rating system effective July 1, 2011, subject to section four of this article.
(1) State agency staffing requirements, including, but not limited to:
(A) Highly trained evaluators to monitor the assessment process and ensure inter-rater reliability of eighty-five percent or higher;
(B) Technical assistance staff responsible for career advising, accreditation support services, improvement planning, portfolio development and evaluations for improvement planning only. The goal for technical assistance staffing is to ensure that individualized technical assistance is available to participating programs;
(C) A person within the department to collaborate with other professional development providers to maximize funding for training, scholarships and professional development. The person filling this position also shall encourage community and technical colleges to provide courses through nontraditional means such as online training, evening classes and off-campus training;
(D) Additional infant and toddler specialists to provide high level professional development for staff caring for infants and to provide on-site assistance with infant and toddler issues;
(E) At least one additional training specialist at each of the child care resource and referral agencies to support new training topics and to provide training for school-age child care programs. Training providers such as the child care resource and referral agencies shall purchase new training programs on topics such as business management, the Devereux Resiliency Training and Mind in the Making; and
(F) Additional staff necessary for program administration;
(2) Implementation of a broad public awareness campaign and communication strategies that may include, but are not limited to:
(A) Brochures, internet sites, posters, banners, certificates, decals and pins to educate parents; and
(B) Strategies such as earned media campaigns, paid advertising campaigns, e-mail and internet-based outreach, face-to-face communication with key civic groups and grassroots organizing techniques; and
(3) Implementation of an internet-based management information system that meets the following requirements:
(A) The system shall allow for multiple agencies to access and input data;
(B) The system shall provide the data necessary to determine if the quality enhancements result in improved care and better outcomes for children;
(C) The system shall allow access by Department of Health and Human Resources subsidy and licensing staff, child care resource and referral agencies, the agencies that provide training and scholarships, evaluators and the child care programs;
(D) The system shall include different security levels in order to comply with the numerous confidentiality requirements;
(E) The system shall assist in informing practice; determining training needs; and tracking changes in availability of care, cost of care, changes in wages and education levels; and
(F) The system shall provide accountability for child care programs and recipients and assure funds are being used effectively;
(4) Financial assistance for child care programs needed to improve learning environments, attain high ratings and sustain long-term quality without passing additional costs on to families that may include, but are not limited to:
(A) Assistance to programs in assessment and individual program improvement planning and providing the necessary information, coaching and resources to assist programs to increase their level of quality;
(B) Subsidizing participating programs for providing child care services to children of low-income families in accordance with the following:
(i) Base payment rates shall be established at the seventy-fifth percentile of market rate; and
(ii) A system of tiered reimbursement shall be established which increases the payment rates by a certain amount above the base payment rates in accordance with the rating tier of the child care program;
(C) Two types of grants shall be awarded to child care programs in accordance with the following:
(i) An incentive grant shall be awarded based on the type of child care program and the level at which the child care program is rated with the types of child care programs having more children and child care programs rated at higher tiers being awarded a larger grant than the types of child care programs having less children and child care programs rated at lower tiers; and
(ii) Grants for helping with the cost of national accreditation shall be awarded on an equitable basis.
(5) Support for increased salaries and benefits for program staff to increase educational levels essential to improving the quality of care that may include, but are not limited to:
(A) Wage supports and benefits provided as an incentive to increase child care programs ratings and as an incentive to increase staff qualifications in accordance with the following:
(i) The cost of salary supplements shall be phased in over a five-year period;
(ii) The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources shall establish a salary scale for each of the top three rating tiers that varies the salary support based on the education of the care giver and the rating tier of the program; and
(iii) Any center with at least a tier two rating that employs at least one staff person participating in the scholarship program required pursuant to paragraph (B) of this subsection or employs degree staff may apply to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources for funding to provide health care benefits based on the Teacher Education and Compensation Helps model in which insurance costs are shared among the employees, the employer and the state; and
(B) The provision of scholarships and establishment of professional development plans for center staff that would promote increasing the credentials of center staff over a five-year period; and
(6) Financial assistance to the child care consumers whose income is at two hundred percent of the federal poverty level or under to help them afford the increased market price of child care resulting from increased quality.
(b) The secretary shall contract with an independent third-party evaluator to assist the department and the Quality Rating and Improvement System Advisory Council with establishing and evaluating the pilot project quality rating and improvement system and conducting research on statewide implementation. The secretary also may contract with the evaluator for ongoing evaluation and research for quality improvement. The evaluator shall have access to all project data including data in the management information system provided for in section two of this article.
(c) The secretary shall report annually to the Legislature on the progress on development and implementation of a child care quality rating and improvement system and its impact on improving the quality of child care in the state. The secretary may propose amendments to the rules and financial plan necessary to promote implementation of the quality rating and improvement system and improve the quality of child care and may recommend needed legislation. Nothing in this article requires the implementation of a quality rating and improvement system unless funds are appropriated therefore. The secretary may prioritize the components of the financial plan for implementation and quality improvement for funding purposes. If insufficient funds are appropriated for full implementation of the quality rating and improvement system beginning on July 1, 2011, the rules shall provide for gradual implementation over a period of several years.
(d) The Legislature recognizes that expenditures, especially one-time types of expenditures or expenditures of a limited duration, may be funded with moneys derived through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. A study of the cost of implementing a quality rating and improvement system statewide is expected to be conducted over the next two years.
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