Governor's Committee on Child Care Approves Recommendations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    FURTHER INFORMATION:
June 1, 2000                                                                                                                                                 Patricia Harris-Morehead at
                                                                                                                                                                       (615) 313-4707 or Lisa Gallon
                                                                                                                                                                       at (615) 313-4728


Nashville, TN---The Governor’s Committee on Child Care approved a list of recommendations to improve Tennessee’s child care program this morning. Governor Don Sundquist appointed the 14-member committee that includes legislators and representatives from the state departments of Human Services; Finance and Administration; Education; and Labor and Workforce Development. The committee has been meeting since January.

State Human Services Commissioner Natasha Metcalf, who also serves as the committee’s chairperson believes these changes will help Tennessee to improve its ranking in comparison to other states that have quality child care programs. "This committee has worked very hard to thoroughly examine our child care services. These recommendations are a combination of their in-depth review and suggestions from our Standards Advisory Committee," Metcalf said.

Based on an extensive review of the child care system, the committee offers the following recommendations to the Department of Human Services:

1. Implement comprehensive legislation to support improved child care licensing enforcement and practices. Key components include requirements for criminal background checks; new enforcement tools such as partial suspensions, conditional licenses, and civil penalties to address serious violations; stream-lining of hearings and appeals processes; accountability measures for agencies receiving subsidy payments; increased licensing fees; liability insurance for facilities and vehicles; and, clarification of licensing responsibilities between the departments of Human Services, Education, and Children’s Services.

2. Establish the comprehensive new child care center standards recommended to the Department of Human Services (DHS) by the Standards Advisory Committee which include, but are not limited to, improved adult/child ratios and additional annual training requirements for directors and caregivers. DHS should add to those standards pre-employment training requirements for caregivers and higher minimum qualifications for administrators and caregivers.

3. Establish a rated child care licensing system, including a "report card" on key provider performance indicators.

4. Implement a tiered reimbursement system for providers accepting subsidy payments in conjunction with the rated licensing system. The reimbursement payment levels (market rate percentiles) should be sufficient to encourage agencies to seek higher quality levels.

5. Expand financial support for training of administrators and caregiver staff through the Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance (TECTA) program. Additional support, as resources allow, should be made available for other sources of professional training approved by DHS.

6. Conduct financial monitoring of child care providers receiving state subsidy payments to ensure funds are used for intended purposes.

7. Eliminate the child care broker system and implement a DHS-administered child care subsidy program.

8. Increase the minimum qualifications for child care licensing counselors to require early childhood education/development or related degrees and/or experience. Establish annual training requirements for licensing staff.

9. Develop a structure to establish a program of public/private partnerships for the creation and enhancement of child care.

10. Provide the DHS adequate staff to implement child care program improvements.

The recommendations have been sent to the Department of Human Services for review.