Note: The following is a joint press release from Maine Women’s Lobby, Maine Children’s Alliance, Family Child Care Association of Maine, and Maine Association for the Education of Young Children.
HHS Committee Meets, But Legislative Review of Harmful New Licensing Rules for Family Child Care Providers Still Needed
AUGUSTA–On Thursday, July 20, 2017, the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services met to discuss new licensing rules for family child care providers. The committee met in response to a petition signed by more than 130 parents and child care providers as part of an application for review submitted by the Maine Children’s Alliance (MCA), the Maine Women’s Lobby (MWL), the Family Child Care Association of Maine (FCCAM), and the Maine Association for the Education of Young Children (MaineAEYC). While Maine’s family child care rules are designed to promote the health, safety and development of children in child care while their parents are at work or attending school, parents, providers, and advocates are concerned that the new rules would weaken protections for children and undermine rights children and parents currently experience.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) had previously indicated that the new rules would go into effect as emergency rules. This would allow the rules to go into effect without the usual legislative review—and is what prompted MCA, MWL, FCCAM, and MaineAEYC to apply for a review by the committee. DHHS chose not to send a representative to the meeting in July 20 so many questions remain unanswered at this time. Committee members have submitted questions to DHHS to respond to in writing.
MCA, MWL, FCCAM, and MaineAEYC released the following statement in response to these developments:
Following the committee meeting on Thursday, July 20, 2017, we remain deeply concerned about the ramifications of the proposed emergency licensing rules for family child care providers put forward by DHHS. When we filed the petition calling for legislative review, more than 130 parents and child care providers signed on sharing our concerns. Since then, many more have reached out to us. That the Department didn’t take the concerns of these Mainers seriously enough to send a representative to the HHS Committee meeting on July 20 is unacceptable. It leaves far too many question unanswered about the standard of care for our children in child care.
We believe that the emergency rules would weaken protections for Maine children’s health, safety, and well-being while also taking away rights parents currently have. The research and evidence-based best practices indicate that these changes to the existing rules significantly lower the standard quality of care for Maine’s young children. For these reasons, Maine Children’s Alliance, Maine Women’s Lobby, Family Child Care Association of Maine, and Maine Association of Young Children continue to call for a moratorium on the implementation of the rules until a thorough review by the HHS Committee can be accomplished.
We appreciate these first steps taken by lawmakers on the HHS Committee to hold this initial meeting and seek answers and clarification from DHHS. We look forward to the committee meeting again in September.
While we wait for answers, we will continue to promote access to quality, affordable child care in our state and support the many providers who do this important work. Our children, families and early childhood communities deserve nothing less.
At this time, the HHS Committee plans to meet to discuss these rules again when the Legislature is in session in September.
If you would like to take action on these dangerous rule changes, contact Victoria at firstname.lastname@example.org.