Raised Bill No. 273
February Session, 2012
LCO No. 1466
Referred to Committee on Select Committee on Children
AN ACT CONCERNING THE CARE4KIDS PROGRAM.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:
Section 1. Section 17b-749 of the 2012 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2012):
(a) For purposes of this section:
(1) "High school" means a day program accredited by the state Department of Education or the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, a general equivalency diploma program, adult education program, technical high school program or vocational secondary school program, which will lead to a high school level diploma or certificate.
(2) "School-based child care program" means a child care program administered by a public school system, or administered by a municipal agency or department and is located in a public school building, or a program administered by a private school, which is in compliance with section 10-188 and is approved by the State Board of Education or is accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the State Board of Education.
(3) "Teen parent" means any parent under the age of twenty.
[(a)] (b) The Commissioner of Social Services shall establish and operate a child care subsidy program to increase the availability, affordability and quality of child care services for (1) families with a parent or caretaker who is working, attending high school or who receives cash assistance under the temporary family assistance program from the Department of Social Services and is participating in an approved education, training, or other job preparation activity and (2) teen parents not receiving cash assistance under the temporary family assistance program from the Department of Social Services, who are enrolled in high school and regularly attend classes at such high school. Services available under the child care program shall include the provision of child care subsidies for children under the age of thirteen or children under the age of nineteen with special needs. The department shall open and maintain enrollment for the child care subsidy program and shall administer such program within the existing budgetary resources available. The department shall issue a notice on the department's Internet web site and shall provide written notice to recipients of program benefits and to service providers any time the department closes the program to new applications, changes eligibility requirements, changes program benefits or makes any other change to the program's status or terms, provided the department shall not be required to issue such notice when the department expands program eligibility. Any change in the department's acceptance of new applications, eligibility requirements, program benefits or any other change to the program's status or terms for which the department is required to give notice pursuant to this subsection, shall not be effective until thirty days after the department issues such notice.
[(b)] (c) The commissioner shall establish income standards for applicants and recipients at a level to include a family with gross income up to fifty per cent of the state-wide median income, except the commissioner (1) may increase the income level to up to seventy-five per cent of the state-wide median income, (2) upon the request of the Commissioner of Children and Families, may waive the income standards for adoptive families so that children adopted on or after October 1, 1999, from the Department of Children and Families are eligible for the child care subsidy program, and (3) on and after March 1, 2003, shall reduce the income eligibility level to up to fifty-five per cent of the state-wide median income for applicants and recipients who qualify based on their loss of eligibility for temporary family assistance. The commissioner may adopt regulations in accordance with chapter 54 to establish income criteria and durational requirements for such waiver of income standards.
(d) The commissioner shall not include the income of a parent or legal guardian of a teen when determining the eligibility of the teen parent for the child care subsidy program, regardless of whether the teen parent was residing with the parent or legal guardian at the time of such determination.
[(c)] (e) The commissioner shall establish eligibility and program standards including, but not limited to: (1) A priority intake and eligibility system with preference given to serving recipients of temporary family assistance who are employed or engaged in employment activities under the department's "Jobs First" program, working families whose temporary family assistance was discontinued not more than five years prior to the date of application for the child care subsidy program, teen parents, low-income working families, adoptive families of children who were adopted from the Department of Children and Families and who are granted a waiver of income standards under subdivision (2) of subsection [(b)] (c), and working families who are at risk of welfare dependency; (2) health and safety standards for child care providers not required to be licensed; (3) a reimbursement system for child care services which account for differences in the age of the child, number of children in the family, the geographic region and type of care provided by licensed and unlicensed caregivers, the cost and type of services provided by licensed and unlicensed caregivers, successful completion of fifteen hours of annual in-service training or credentialing of child care directors and administrators, and program accreditation; (4) supplemental payment for special needs of the child and extended nontraditional hours; (5) an annual rate review process for providers; [which assures that reimbursement rates are maintained at levels which permit equal access to a variety of child care settings;] (6) a sliding reimbursement scale for participating families; (7) an administrative appeals process; (8) an administrative hearing process to adjudicate cases of alleged fraud and abuse and to impose sanctions and recover overpayments; (9) an extended period of program and payment eligibility when a parent who is receiving a child care subsidy experiences a temporary interruption in employment or other approved activity; and (10) a waiting list for the child care subsidy program that reflects the priority and eligibility system set forth in subdivision (1) of this subsection, which is reviewed periodically, with the inclusion of this information in the annual report required to be issued annually by the Department of Social Services to the Governor and the General Assembly in accordance with subdivision (10) of section 17b-733. Such action will include, but not be limited to, family income, age of child, region of state and length of time on such waiting list.
(f) Not later than July 1, 2022, payment rates for the provision of child care services for child care centers and family day care homes shall be set at, and thereafter maintained, at the seventy-fifth percentile of current market rates for such centers and homes, and payment rates for relatives, in-home care providers and other types of unlicensed providers shall be set at, and thereafter maintained at, one-third of the current state minimum wage. Any increase in funding to the department's child care subsidy program in the state fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, shall be used to proportionately increase the payment rate to child care subsidy program providers.
[(d)] (g) Not later than January 1, 2011, an applicant determined to be eligible for program benefits shall remain eligible for such benefits for a period of not less than eight months from the date that such applicant is determined to be eligible, provided the commissioner has not determined, during such eight-month period, that the applicant's circumstances have changed so as to render the applicant ineligible for program benefits. The commissioner shall not make an eligibility determination for a recipient of program benefits more than one time per eight-month period, except as provided in subsection [(e)] (j) of this section.
(h) A recipient of program benefits who takes unpaid leave from her employment due to the birth or impending birth of a child shall be granted not more than twelve weeks of program eligibility during the leave if: (1) The recipient intends to return to work at the end of the unpaid leave; (2) the recipient verifies that eligibility is needed to prevent the loss of a slot in a school-based program or licensed child care setting; or (3) the child receiving child care services under the program continues to attend the program during the recipient's leave.
(i) A recipient of program benefits whose employment is terminated and is actively seeking a new job shall remain eligible for the child care subsidy program for not more than six months during such period of unemployment.
[(e)] (j) Not later than October 15, 2011, the commissioner shall submit a report, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a, to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to human services and appropriations and the budgets of state agencies concerning eligibility redeterminations made on an eight-month basis. Such report shall include an analysis of overpayments of program benefits made by the department and administrative costs incurred by the department as a result of eligibility redeterminations made on an eight-month basis. On and after October 15, 2011, the commissioner may make eligibility redeterminations on a six-month basis if, after January 1, 2011, the department's overpayments of program benefits have increased in comparison with the period between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2010, as a result of having an eight-month eligibility redetermination period.
[(f)] (k) A provider under the child care subsidy program that qualifies for eligibility and subsequently receives payment for child care services for recipients under this section shall be reimbursed for such services until informed by the Department of Social Services of the recipient's ineligibility.
[(g)] (l) All licensed child care providers and those providers exempt from licensing shall provide the Department of Social Services with the following information in order to maintain eligibility for reimbursement: (1) The name, address, appropriate identification, Social Security number and telephone number of the provider and all adults who work for or reside at the location where care is provided; (2) the name and address of the child's doctor, primary care provider and health insurance company; (3) whether the child is immunized and has had health screens pursuant to the federal Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment Services Program under 42 USC 1396d; and (4) the number of children cared for by the provider.
[(h)] (m) On or after January 1, 1998, the commissioner shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, to implement the provisions of this section.
[(i)] (n) The commissioner shall submit to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to human services and appropriations and the budgets of state agencies a copy of the Child Care and Development Fund Plan that the commissioner submits to the Administration for Children and Families pursuant to federal law. The copy of the plan shall be submitted to the committees not later than thirty days after submission of the plan to the Administration for Children and Families.
This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:
October 1, 2012
Statement of Purpose:
To make changes to the Care4Kids subsidy program to allow minor parents attending high school to be eligible for the program, allow women on maternity leave to continue to receive Care4Kids during their leave, extend the eligibility to unemployed recipients seeking employment, and to adjust payment rates for the program.
[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined.]