§49-2E-4. Quality rating and improvement system pilot projects; independent third-party evaluation; modification of proposed rule and financial plan; report to Legislature; limitations on implementation.
(a) The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources may promulgate emergency rules in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code to implement a quality rating and improvement system in up to five counties as pilot projects beginning July 1, 2009. The pilot quality rating and improvement systems shall be in accordance with the provisions of this article for the statewide system. The purpose of the pilot projects is to test the rating system, assess the quality of existing child care providers, provide a basis for estimating the financial requirements of the various elements of a statewide system as set forth in this article and to inform future policy decisions. Notwithstanding any provision of this article to the contrary, the rating or potential rating of a child care provider participating in the study may not be individually disclosed. The secretary may modify and develop additional policies consistent with this article as appropriate.

(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.