MN Policy Hour March 2016The April edition of Minnesota’s Future Policy Hour featured leaders from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) discussing Minnesota’s response to the federal reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program. In order to comply with federal changes to the program, the state must make changes to current law.

Reggie Wagner, Scott Parker, and Laurie Possin walked through the bill. It was proposed as Senate File 3332, which includes the Governor’s recommendations for all of Health and Human Services. The provisions related to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and licensing have a fiscal impact of $28.28 million in FY 2017, $103.8 in FY 2018, and $127.5 million in FY 2019. Some of the proposed changes include:

  • Annual inspections for all types of programs. This will require many more staff at DHS to carry out the inspections.
  • Twelve month redetermination periods for families. This is an increase from the current six month requirement and is intended to lead to greater stability for children. Co-pays during this period would not go up, but they could go down if the family’s circumstances change.
  • Additional efforts to improve continuity of care. If a family moves to a different county, they will be able to continue to participate in (CCAP) without interruption. Additionally, parents will no longer have to submit work schedules. They will still have to meet the 20 hour work requirement, but they can choose a child care schedule that works best for their families.
  • More intensive background studies as required by the reauthorization. DHS is proposing to take over this responsibility for Legal Non-Licensed providers and Family Child Care. This year there will not be any significant changes to the background studies. However, they plan to bring more comprehensive changes in the 2017 legislative session. They are still waiting for clarification from the federal government on the background study.
  • New requirements for License-Exempt Centers. For those programs currently designated as License-Exempt and who accept children on CCAP, they will have to meet health and safety, ratio and training requirements, as well as participate in annual inspections.

A few helpful tools that provide a more comprehensive overview of the changes can be found here: DHS Gov Bill Handouts 2016

Because Minnesota was already close to complying with federal requirements around training for providers, Licensed Family Child Care or Child Care Centers shouldn’t see any major changes. Current trainings may be modified slightly to cover different topics, but additional hours of training should not be necessary.

Several questions in the room centered on communication and collaboration between DHS and other organizations. Especially with the focus on quality in the reauthorization, DHS officials agreed that new licensors should be well-informed about Parent Aware. Head Start encouraged coordination with other departments such as health.

There were questions about the Positive Supports Rule, which does not directly relate to the CCDF reauthorization, but more information on it can be found here.

The federal government will approve state plans by July 1, 2016, at which time it will also provide additional clarification about the rules. Minnesota must be in compliance with federal guidelines by September 30, 2016, but implementation of many of the changes will occur after that date.