Happy April! I am writing today to provide some quick updates/reminders on behalf of the Child Care Licensing Team.
Effective May 1, 2023 – the licensing team will be posting monitoring reports within 72 hours of a monitoring or complaint visit, regardless of whether all items have been resolved. If you have non-compliances, once they have been rectified, we will repost the report showing that you have resolved all non-compliances. Too often, we are waiting months and months to post for proof of resolution of one small non-compliance, and it is backlogging the posting of monitoring reports. The licensor is expected to go over the report with you before they leave so you will know what will be posted, and as soon as you rectify any issues, we will repost the newest one. If you have any questions on this, please feel free to reach out. As a reminder, you can find any recent monitoring reports by searching for your program on this website: https://earlylearningprograms.dhs.ri.gov/
In the last few months, we have seen an uptick in incidents or injuries at programs that result in emergency personnel have been activated (called) and/or a parent taking a child to a medical provider after an injury to be told that there are additional actions needed (i.e. stiches or a cast) Accidents occur sometimes and it is important that you do whatever you can to provide care to the child in a quick and effective manner. However, there is a regulatory process for when situations like this happen in your center or family home. RICR 1.13.A.3 (Child care centers) and RICR 2.3.6.A.2 (Family Child Care) states that:
The program (provider) is responsible for immediately notifying the Department in the event of an emergency situation, which includes:
- Any death and/or serious injury while in care of the program; including on-site, during transport and/or on a field trip.
(1) After notifying emergency personnel, events of this nature should then be reported to the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families’ Child Protective Services hotline (1-800-RI-CHILD/1-800-742-4453).
- Activation of emergency personnel.
- Occurrence of emergency or disaster that impacts the program’s ability to operate; or
- Failure of mechanical systems.
The above regulation also includes language about contacting us if there is an emergency, disaster, or mechanical system failure. As a reminder, if anything happens in your program that results in a school closure or movement of children from one space in your building to another because of a water, heat, power or electrical issue, you are required email your licensor or contact the general child care email to alert us of this, especially if you are unable to care for children as a result.
While we have transitioned out of emergency COVID-19 regulations, we are still seeing many programs not allowing families into their buildings. Child care centers and family child care homes should not be keeping families out of their programs at this point. Rhode Island has open-door policies in both regulation and statute that requires the program to be open for families. As a reminder, our regulations state that the program is open to families for observations and visits whenever the program is in operation (Center Regulations RICR 1.14.F.8 and Family Child Care RICR 2.3.7.F.7). Even more importantly, an open-door policy is in Rhode Island General Law. RIGL 42-12.5-8 states that “There shall be an open door policy permitting any custodial parent or legal guardian to have access to a daycare facility for any program when their child is in attendance” (you can find it here for reference). It is also important to note that as a child care or family child care owner and operator, there is a correlation between not allowing parents in the building or in a child’s classroom and an increase in hotline calls, because parents are unsure of what is happening in the program.
It is important that you create and implement policies that allow people back into your program. While this begins with families, it also includes people who are there to help the children in your care, such as Child Outreach and EI specialists. Children have been through a lot in the last few years, just like adults, and it’s imperative that we are all working together for the success of young children as well as the trust of families. Licensors who are conducting unannounced monitoring visits will begin to ask you about your open-door policies when they visit, and this language will also be tightened up in the next iteration of the regulations. It is no longer an option for parents to drop a child off at the door with no access to the child’s classroom or program on a regular basis. If you are fortunate enough to have an entrance directly to your classroom and make the programmatic decision to do drop off outside, that is perfectly fine as long as you ensure there are other ways in your open-door policy to address families having access to the building.
Lastly, as many of you are aware, we have had some personnel changes in the Office of Child Care. We are onboarding new staff in various positions. Part of that onboarding process may involve seeing a child care center or family child care home in action. Please do not be alarmed if in the coming months, there is more than one person at a time conducting a visit at your program. We are in the process of training and onboarding new licensors, a new implementation aide and new programming services officers and they will all clearly be able to identify themselves and will always be with someone you know. I just wanted to let you know in advance if you are due to a licensing visit and see a couple of us show up at the door – it’s truly so we can show new staff the whole system and is not reflective at all your program or home in any negative way.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and ensure you understand these updates. Additional updates related to comprehensive background checks and the return of all provider meetings will be sent out in the next few weeks. Make sure you are looking out for these emails as they will be providing important information. As always, thank you so much for all you do for Rhode Island’s littlest learners.
Assistant Director, Office of Child Care