PA 16-131—sHB 5466

Education Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORDS CHECKS FOR HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS OF A FAMILY CHILD CARE HOME AND PROVIDING CHILD CARE FOR ASSISTANCE RECIPIENTS ENROLLED IN APPROVED HIGHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS

SUMMARY: This act requires any household member age 16 or older who lives in a prospective family child care home to undergo state and national criminal history records checks when the care provider first applies to the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) for licensure, thus conforming the law to existing OEC practice. It defines a “household member” as anyone residing in the family child care home other than the person licensed to provide child care. This includes the licensee's spouse, children, tenants, or any other occupant. It also authorizes the OEC commissioner to take action against licensees with household members who have committed specific crimes.

Additionally, the act requires, rather than allows, the Department of Labor (DOL) to approve higher education courses as required employment activities for temporary family assistance (TFA) recipients in the Jobs First Employment Services (JFES) program (see BACKGROUND). It also adds enrollment at a public or independent institution of higher education to the list of employment services that DOL, if the department deems it appropriate, must provide to TFA recipients. In doing so, the act allows TFA recipients participating in approved education courses to receive Care 4 Kids child care subsidies. It also repeals a conflicting law on DOL approval of higher education courses as employment activities.

The act also makes several technical and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage, except the Care 4 Kids and TFA provisions take effect July 1, 2016.

HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS IN FAMILY CHILD CARE HOMES

The act allows the OEC commissioner to refuse to approve, as well as to suspend or revoke, a family child care provider's license or take other action against the licensee, if a household member age 16 or older has a (1) felony conviction anywhere in the United States involving the use or threatened use of physical force or (2) criminal record in Connecticut or any other state that the commissioner reasonably believes makes the provider unsuitable to own, conduct, operate, or maintain the family child care home. As under existing law, the commissioner may also take such action if a household member is convicted of various felonies involving a victim under age 18, sexual assault, or illegal substances, among other things.

Prior law required family child care home licensees or assistant or substitute staff members to immediately notify the commissioner on learning that a person residing in the family child care home has been convicted of a crime that affects the commissioner's discretion in licensing or approving individuals. The act specifies that the notice requirement applies to household members age 16 or older.

HIGHER EDUCATION COURSES FOR TFA RECIPIENTS

Prior law authorized the DOL commissioner, in consultation with the social services commissioner, to approve education courses as required employment activities for TFA recipients. The act requires, rather than allows, him to do so. It also requires the approved courses to include all degree programs offered at public and private, nonprofit higher education institutions, rather than two- or four-year programs. Enrollment in degree-granting, for-profit institutions is therefore no longer acceptable. Additionally, it adds public and independent institutions of higher education to the list of permissible employment service providers.

The act repeals a law which required TFA's JFES program to approve two- or four-year higher education degree programs as acceptable work activities when the labor commissioner determined that the state unemployment rate has been at least 8% for the preceding three months.

BACKGROUND

JFES

The state's JFES program includes two parts: (1) TFA, which generally provides up to 21 months of cash assistance to needy families with children, and (2) JFES, which provides services and support to help adult caretakers secure permanent employment within the time limit. Unless exempted by law, TFA recipients generally have to participate in JFES to remain eligible for TFA.

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