2 EEC Subsidy Regulations What Are the Subsidy Regulations? EEC is the Lead Agency responsible for compliance with early education and care services under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-193). As such, EEC is responsible for administering and providing early education and care programs and services to children, through grants, contracts and vouchers. The current regulations (606 CMR 10.00) identify the general provisions and eligibility requirements for families with children seeking subsidized child care in the Commonwealth. EEC Child Care Subsidy Program Governance EECs Financial Assistance Program is governed by both federal and state laws and policies: Federal Statutes -- The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act and the Social Security Act Federal Regulations -- The Child Care Development Fund Federal Policies, Program Instructions and Other Guidance State Regulations -- Subsidized Child Care State Policies -- EEC Financial Assistance Policy Guide
4 4 Why Amend the EEC Subsidy Regulations? Factors contributing to the need to review and amend the Regulations include: Identifying and Implementing Best Practices Review regulations every 5 years (last updated in 2006) Analyze other State child care subsidy laws and policies Address unique challenges/weaknesses identified due to recent fiscal constraints/system restructuring (e.g., closure/limited access to EEC financial assistance, CPC transition, Voucher Pilot) Targeting/maximizing limited resources Addressing user feedback/achieving efficiencies Addressing Federal & State Oversight concerns Reduce opportunities for Fraud, Waste and Abuse Address Improper Authorizations for Payment (IAP) results Respond to ACF regarding EECs State Plan Align with ANF Task Force established to review MA public assistance programs Ensure Program Integrity
Technical Regulatory Changes To ensure compliance with current laws/policies and aid in the interpretation and enforcement of the regulations Family Size and Household Composition (codifies existing practice) o Clarifies verification of household members necessary for purposes of determining eligibility and establishing parent fees. Data Sharing/Interfaces Authorization (new) o Authorizes EEC to request and/or provide information to/from other government agencies, contracted providers, other states and financial institutions for purposes of verifying eligibility. Additional Documentation (codifies existing practice) o Authorizes providers and/or CCR&Rs to request additional documentation, if file indicates application inaccuracies/ contradictions. Travel Time (codifies existing practice) o Requires applicants to present a minimum of 20 hours of service need before allowing travel time to be factored in. 5
Technical Regulatory Changes (contd) Termination and Reduction of Services (amends current regulations) o Allows for denial or termination upon (1) submission of false or misleading information and/or documentation or (2) outstanding child care debt owed to the Commonwealth. o Allows for reduction if a change in the total household income results in an increase the parent(s) co-payment fee. Review Process (codifies existing practice) o Clarifies scope of review to reflect recoupment process. o Allows for termination of continued subsidized child care when it is determined that there is no genuine issue of material fact as presented by the parent in the Request for Review. o Allows for dismissal of a request for informal hearing when parent (1) fails to prosecute his/her claim and (2) has already agreed in writing to repay the debt at issue. 6
Substantive Regulatory Changes Identity, Residency & Citizenship Status o Requires verification of applicants identity and residency, as well as the citizenship/ immigration status of each child seeking assistance. Child Support Enforcement Requirement o Requires single parent applicants to submit evidence of child support and/or cooperation with the Commonwealths Child Support Enforcement agency, as a condition of eligibility. Child Attendance/Reimbursement Requirements o Requires children to regularly attend early education and care programs subsidized by the Commonwealth or risk termination and/or non-reimbursement. Limitations on Self-Employment o Imposes restrictions on certain work-related service need activities, in particular, at home self-employment o Changes methodology for calculating service need – total earnings divided by minimum wage to establish amount of care needed. Special Needs (Protective Services) o New definition of protective services to include parents and children with documented disability and/or special need; limits authorization period. o Eliminates child with special need as a single service need. 7
8 Identity, Residency & Citizenship Status – Proposal (codifies existing practice) EEC seeks to formally codify the Citizenship and Immigration Status policy issued in April 2010, in order to: o Address the deficiency in EECs regulations and policies identified by ACF in the 2008-2009 Federal Improper Authorization for Payment review Massachusetts, along with all other Year 2 States, were given a one time exemption to implement this requirement o Achieve consistency between regulations and policies and ensure efficient and uniform outcomes for families. Requires verification of applicants identity and residency, as well as the citizenship or immigration status of each child seeking child care financial assistance.
9 Child Support Enforcement Requirement – Proposal (new) Addresses concerns about the accuracy of household size reported by families and supports the mission of the MA Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSE). At least 20 States currently impose a CSE requirement Benefits of instituting a Child Support Enforcement policy: o Keep families out of poverty and provide adequate food, shelter and clothing o Add to the overall stability, security and well-being of families and children o Intended to lessen the existing burdens of second parent in the household documentation Key issues to consider during implementation: o Avoid duplication o Identify exceptions (i.e. domestic violence or child protection) o Identify required documentation o Monitor and evaluate effectiveness Requires single parent applicants to submit evidence of child support and/or cooperation with the Commonwealths Child Support Enforcement agency, as a condition of eligibility.
10 Child Attendance Requirement – Proposal (amends current requirements) Review of annual billing and current EEC regulations related to absences identified potential abuse/waste (EECs annual billing for FY08-10 shows): o Over each of past 3 years, providers have billed EEC for over $37M related to absent days o Absence rates for some children approach 50% o Providers acknowledge billing for regularly scheduled absences, such as families that only need 4 days/week Research shows that chronic absenteeism in the early years, such as kindergarten, predicted continuing absences in later grades. EEC reviewed other states and ESEs requirement to identify best practice: o Ohio – limits absences to 10 in 6 months o Maryland – limits absences to 60 in 12 months o Delaware – limits absences to 5 per month o MA- allows 10 absences per month Requires children to regularly attend early education and care programs subsidized by the Commonwealth or risk termination by limiting absences to 30 per 6 months* * Reflects an average of 5 absences/month enforced over a 6 month period.
11 Self-Employment – Proposal (amends current requirements) To improve program integrity and efficiency, EEC proposes to limit the types of work-related activities that satisfy the service need requirement: No home-based self-employment, unless the work performed: creates a clear and present danger to children requires regular face-to-face meetings or appointments with clients, which prevents direct supervision of children Propose a launch/grace period for new self-employment business – 3 month start up Implement new mechanism for confirming minimum service need Current practice – service need hours are self-declared Proposed practice – divide gross income by MA minimum wage rate to determine service need hours
12 Federal regulations establish two foundational requirements for all children seeking CCDF-funded child care services: 1. Children must reside with a family whose income does not exceed 85% of SMI; and 2. Reside with parent(s) who are working, or participating in job training or an education program, or are receiving or need to receive protective services. In 2009-2010, ACF identified two instances where EEC policies and regulations did not align with these requirements: 1. Children with Special Needs – 1) allowing children to remain in care up to 100% SMI; 2) allowing a categorical waiver of the work, education and training requirement, and 3) not clearly defining such families in need of protective services. 2. Parents with Special Needs – 1) allowing children to remain in care up to 100% of SMI, and 2) not clearly defining such families in need of protective services. Special Needs: Federal Regulatory Compliance – General Issues
13 CCDF regulations provide some flexibility to States for purposes of defining and implementing laws and policies related to protective services and allows for some exemptions from eligibility requirements: 1. Children residing in a family that is receiving or needs to receive protective intervention services may be eligible for CCDF-funded child care, if they remain in the home, even if the parent(s) is not working or in an education or training program. See 45 CFR 98.20(a)(3)(ii). 2. States have the discretion to waive the 85% SMI limitation if a child is residing in a family that is receiving or needs to receive protective intervention services if determined necessary on a case by case basis. See 45 CFR 98.20(a)(3)(ii)(A). Massachusetts proposes to define protective services as: Families, who have active protective needs documented in a supported report of abuse or neglect within the previous 12 months or when there is a determination of need to begin or continue supportive child care at a Department of Children and Families Progress Supervisory Review, will be deemed to be in need of protective services. Additionally, children may be deemed at risk of needing protective services in special circumstances, wherein families are unable to provide child care for any portion of a 24 hour day due to a situation of domestic violence or homelessness, a physical, mental, emotional or medical condition, or participation in a drug treatment or drug rehabilitation program. Special Needs: Federal Regulatory Compliance – General Issues (contd)
14 Issues: In practice, special need of parent definition misaligned with federal in need of protective services intention. Examples identified through central office review: headaches, backaches, carpal tunnel syndrome. Data shows inordinate number of special need of parent service need approvals in contract slots. Special need of parent service need currently approved for indefinite time period irrespective of the stated need. Federal laws prohibit use of CCDF funding for respite care. Research/Best Practices: What do other states do? Most states limit eligibility for special need or disabled parents to 2-parent households Some states limit eligibility for a short duration (e.g., no more than 6 months for medical illnesses, etc.) Some states impose restrictions based on the age of the children in the household (i.e., not a valid service need unless the child is under 8) and limit eligibility for a shorter duration (i.e., no more than 6 months for medical illnesses, etc.) At least one state limits eligibility to continuity of care for a limited time (i.e., previously employed, upon reassessment disabled – allowable service need not to exceed 30 days) Special Needs Parents – Unique Issues/Best Practices
15 Special Needs – Length of Authorization Consistency Subsidy TypeInitial DurationI/E Continuity TANF/DTAUp to 12 months, in accordance with DTA authorization Upon closure of DTA case, must comply with I/E regulations and policies for continuity Supportive/DCFUp to 6 monthsOne 6 month extension allowed, after which must comply with I/E regulations and policies for continuity Special Need Parents or Children Up to 12 months, renewable at the end of each authorization for as long as condition exists Indefinite. Exempt from I/E regulations and policies and continuity allowed for as long as special need exists Income EligibleUp to 12 monthsmust comply with I/E regulations and policies for continuity
16 Special Needs Parents – Proposal (amends current requirements) EEC will seek to amend current policies related to Child Care Financial Assistance eligibility requirements for families with special needs parents to: Only allow for new access through vouchers Heighten the bar on what is deemed at risk of needing protective service Only allow these to be short term vouchers -- 12 months, renewable once –- with the intended purpose of helping to serve as a bridge while parents seek other resources to address the protective service issue and/or become employable; further extensions may be allowed with EEC authorization upon a showing of extraordinary circumstances.
17 Special Needs Children – Proposal (amends current requirements) Issues: Exemption was originally based on assumption that special needs children are educationally at risk Misaligned with federal exemption definition of in need of protective services Research based risk factors show that ALL low-income children are educationally at risk Streamlining and coordinating resources: Other agencies are charged with providing services to special needs children -- ESE (IEP) or DPH (IFSP) EEC should support ESE and/or DPH with wrap-around services for otherwise eligible children Current MA practice: Parents are not required to engage in work, education and/or training activities Families may enter care at 85% SMI and exit at 100% (no change) Children are eligible for full-time care regardless of need (no change) Proposal: Align EEC regulations with Federal regulations and require parents of children with special needs to participate in work, education or training.
Solicitation of Stakeholder Input Over the past year, EEC engaged both internal and external stakeholders to carefully consider how the proposed changes would impact parents, providers and subsidy administrators, including: EEC staff that work directly with all interested parties, including families receiving EEC financial assistance and providers/ CCR&Rs Provided input throughout the drafting process Subsidy administrators, including both CCRRs and Contracted Providers Both informally and at regularly scheduled meetings The Advisory Council February and March 2011 The Policy and Fiscal Committee of the Board February, March and April 2011 18
Common Themes from Feedback Received by EEC General support or understanding for most proposed changes Request for EEC to work closely with CCR&R and providers in implementing the policy changes, and ensure that the necessary IT infrastructure is in place before rolling out the changes Recognition that some substantive changes were necessitated by federal funding requirements Strong concerns about proposed changes to citizenship, child support enforcement, and special needs and their impact on families. In particular, a remaining concern is how compliance with the federal requirements creates tension with EECs mission to provide the foundation that supports all children in their development as lifelong learners and contributing members of the community, and supports families in their essential work as parents and caregivers. 19
Proposed Policy Statement EEC proposes that the Board adopt the following policy statement to address this tension and reaffirm its statutory mandate: The Board of Early Education and Care acknowledges that the federal funding supporting the Commonwealths child care financial assistance program is subject to several conditions. These conditions impose certain limitations related to the evaluation of children and families seeking early education and care subsidies in Massachusetts, including, but not limited to, financial thresholds, work, education or training requirements and verification of residency, citizenship and immigration status. In light of the Department of Early Education and Cares mission to support all children in their development as lifelong learners and in acknowledgement of the limitations of the federal funding, the Board will continue to advocate for a system of early education and care assistance that is accessible for all children, irrespective of the federal funding limitations. The Board acknowledges that this effort is subject to the Commonwealth appropriating additional state-funding to support this endeavor. 20
21 Proposed Regulation Promulgation Timeline TasksDate Vet Regulation Changes with Providers/CCR&Rs; continue to make policy changes/clarifications that do not require regulation changes Fall 2010 Board reviews proposed regulation changes; Committee discussions Feb/March 2011 Board vote to put regulations out for public comment April 2011 Public comment period; meetings with stakeholders/providers/advocates May/June 2011 Board vote to promulgate regulations; Roll out implementation/trainings June/Sept 2011 21