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Empire Justice Comments on Health and Safety Standards for Informal Child Care Providers

February 2, 2006

 

BY FAX AND MAIL

Public Information Office
Office of Children and Family Services
52 Washington Avenue
Rensselaer, NY 12144

Re: Health and Safety Standards for Legally -Exempt Informal Child Care Providers

Dear Sir or Madam:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the revised rulemaking in the above matter which appeared in the New York State Register of January 4, 2005. These regulations in large part define the responsibilities of the Legally Exempt Caregiver Enrollment Agency (LECEA) in enrolling legally exempt child care providers.

Our office has particular concerns as to how the timing of the enrollment process will intersect with the rights of public assistance recipients to guaranteed child care under Social Services Law § 410-w(3).

Under the revised regulation, the LECEA must determine whether an enrollment package is complete within 10 days of receiving such a packet, and must complete a full review of the packet within 40 days of receipt of the completed packet. Where the checklist and packet “do not raise immediate concerns” the LECEA must enroll the provider on a temporary basis until a full review is complete. 18 NYCRR 415.4 (f)(1).

The regulations need to clarify whether payment may be made during the approval process or even before the approval process begins. We can imagine a number of scenarios which could lead to the provider being denied payment which would illegally deny the public assistance recipient her child care guarantee. This issue is even more likely to occur in light of the budget bill that just passed the House of Representatives last night, since work participation rates will rise dramatically.

For example, on May l, Mary Jones, a public assistance recipient, receives a notice from her local social services district assigning her to an employment program which begins on May 10. The notice advises Mary to locate her own child care. What will the logistics be in starting the enrollment process? Will the income maintenance unit include an enrollment packet for her to take to her provider or will Mary have to make an appointment with the child care unit to get her packet? If it is the latter, a delay is already built into this process which may jeopardize the child care guarantee.

Assuming that it takes Mary several days to locate a child care provider and to acquire an enrollment packet, Mary delivers the packet to the provider, Jane Smith, on May 5, and drops her child off in care on May 10 when her program begins. Jane mails the packet to the LECEA on May 9 and it is received by the LECEA on May 12. On May 16, the LECEA returns the packet to the provider noting that she had neglected to answer a question. On May 20 the provider mails a completed application, which is received by the LECEA on May 22. On June 1, the LECEA approves the provider on a temporary basis and on June 30 the provider is approved permanently.

Questions:

A. Is the provider eligible for payment on May 10 and 11, the dates before the LECEA received the enrollment form?

B. Is the provider eligible for payment from May 11 - 22, the dates representing a period for which the provider in good faith submitted an enrollment form that the LECEA deemed was incomplete?

C. Is the provider eligible for payment from May 22 through June 1 when the completed application is pending?

D. Is the provider eligible for payment from June 1 - June 30 during the temporary approval process?

If payment can not be made for any time that a child is in care, we encourage OCFS to discuss how it will reconcile this period of non-payment with the responsibility of its sister agency, The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, to guarantee child care for public assistance recipients who are required to participate in work programs.

As mentioned previously, where the checklist and packet “do not raise immediate concerns” the LECEA must enroll the provider on a temporary basis until a full review is complete. The regulations need to explicitly address what matters constitute “immediate concerns.” This will ensure the fundamental fairness and consistent standards across the state.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on these regulations.


Very truly yours,


Susan C. Antos

cc: Russell Sykes, OTDA
      Assemblymember Deborah Glick
      Assemblymember William Scarborough
      Senator Raymond Meier
      Jacqui Green, Esq.

For more information, please contact:


Susan C. Antos

Empire Justice Center
119 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY  12210 


(518) 462-6831
(518) 935-2852
santos@empirejustice.org