LIABILITY (LAW); DAY CARE;
Other States laws/regulations; Connecticut laws/regulations;
July 22, 2003
LICENSING REQUIREMENTS FOR AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMS
By: Judith Lohman, Chief Analyst
You asked (1) whether the state requires after-school programs to be licensed as child care facilities, (2) whether it makes a difference to licensing requirements if the program operates under the auspices of a local or regional board of education, and (3) whether surrounding states have licensing requirements for after-school programs.
Whether the state requires a license for an after-school program depends on the type of program. Although most providers of “supplementary care” for children must be licensed by the Department of Public Health (DPH), the law exempts several specific types of programs, some of which could be classified as “after-school” programs.
Connecticut law exempts programs run by public school systems from day care licensing requirements. But according to DPH’s Devon Conover, to be exempt, a program must be operated by the public school system, not just affiliated with it or taking place in a public school building.
Our surrounding states, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island, also license childcare providers and exempt certain types of programs, though the exemptions in the other states are not as numerous as Connecticut’s. Like Connecticut, none of the other three states has a blanket exemption for after-school programs though some types of after-school programs are exempt in those states. Massachusetts and New York exempt programs operated by public schools and state-approved private schools from the licensing requirements. Rhode Island exempts educational programs approved by the state education commissioner.
CONNECTICUT LICENSING REQUIREMENTS
Connecticut law requires anyone who provides a “supplementary care” program for children to be licensed by the Department of Public Health (DPH). The day care licensing law exempts several types of programs from the licensing requirements, including those administered by public schools (CGS § 19a-77).
An after-school program that does not fall within one of the exemptions would most likely have to be licensed, according to Devon Conover of DPH’s Division of Community-Based Regulation. Conover said that the department goes through a two-step process to determine if a particular program needs a license. First, it determines if the facility is providing “supplementary care” for children and second, if it qualifies for an exemption from licensure under one of the statutory exemptions listed below.
Neither the statute nor DPH’s regulations define “supplementary care. ” Our conversations with DPH failed to clarify what types of programs are covered by this term, although Conover said the department considers a program’s “overall focus” in determining whether it provides such care and is thus potentially subject to licensing.
The law specifically exempts the following from day care licensing requirements:
1. programs administered by public school systems or by a municipal agency if the municipal program is located in a public school building and serves children who go to that school;
2. programs administered by state-approved or properly accredited private schools;
3. recreation programs, including classes in art, drama, and music lasting no more than two hours, library programs, boys’ and girls’ clubs, church-related activities, scouting, camping, or community youth programs;
4. informal babysitting arrangements among neighbors in their own homes;
5. babysitting by the child’s or parent’s child, grandchild, sibling, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, or first cousin;
6. drop-in child care operations for educational or recreational purposes (presumably the parents’ recreational or educational purposes), if the child receives care there infrequently and the parent is on the premises;
7. free drop-in child care in retail stores while parents are shopping, if the operations meet the requirements for such services specified by law; and
8. religious education programs run by religious institutions exclusively for members’ children (§ 19a-77(b), as amended by PA 03-252, § 22).
DPH regulations define a child as anyone under age 18. Programs caring for children who are at least five years old and attending elementary or middle school must also have a “school age children endorsement”. This endorsement requires the program to meet additional program requirements (Regs. Of Ct. State Agencies, § 19a-79-11).
Massachusetts requires a special license for “school age child care programs. ” The license covers programs offering “supervised group care” for unrelated children starting when they are enrolled in kindergarten and old enough to enter first grade in the following year until they reach age 14 (or age 16 if they have special needs). The programs may operate before and after school and during school vacations and holidays. They provide a planned daily program of activities attended by children for specifically identified blocks of time during the week.
Under Massachusetts law, the following are not required to have a school age child care program license:
1. programs operated by public school systems;
2. parts of a private, organized education system unless its services are primarily limited to a school age day care program;
3. Sunday schools and religious instruction classes run by religious organizations that care for children while those responsible for them are attending religious services;
4. family day care homes, which provide care for up to six children under age seven (or special needs children under age 16), including the caregivers’ own children, in a private home (these facilities require another license);
5. informal cooperative arrangements among neighbors or relatives; and
6. occasional babysitting provided for pay or for free (Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. 28A § 9).
New York requires providers of “child day care” to be licensed or registered. The general day care licensing requirement applies to anyone who is not a relative who regularly cares for a child outside his home for less than 24 hours per day. New York has a separate definition for “school age child care,” which are programs that care for more than six school-aged children under age 13 or older children who cannot care for themselves. They must operate according to the local school calendar and offer care during the school year to enrolled children at a permanent site before and after school, and during school lunch periods. They may also provide care during school holidays and periods of the year when school is not in session.
New York’s licensing requirements exclude:
1. day camps;
2. after-school programs operated for religious education, sports, or recreation;
3. state-operated or approved day treatment programs for children with mental retardation or mental illness; and
4. kindergarten or pre-kindergarten or nursery school programs for children age three and over or after-school programs operated by a public school district or private school that is also providing elementary and secondary education, as long as the program is provided on the same premises or campus as the elementary or secondary education (McKinney’s New York Social Services Law, Art. 6 § 390).
Rhode Island requires child day care centers to be licensed if they regularly or irregularly care for any child under age 16 outside his home for any part of a 24-hour day.
The licensing requirements do not apply to:
1. nursery schools or other educational programs subject to the education commissioner’s approval;
2. the child’s relatives unless the child care arrangement is “for purposes of day care” (the regulations do not define the term “day care”);
3. shelters for parents with children;
4. boarding schools;
5. recreation camps; or
6. nursing homes, hospitals, maternity residences, and centers for developmentally disabled children (Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, & Families, Day Care Licensing Regulations § 42-721-1-4).