2017 Child Care Legislative Roundup

The 2017 Child Care Legislative Roundup is a summary of enacted bills, as well as select bills that did not become law, that impact children, families, child care professionals, and the child care delivery system in California.

Enacted Bills

Parental Leave Extended to Companies with Twenty Employees

SB 63 (Jackson) provides California workers at employers with 20 or more employees with job-protection for up to 12 weeks of parental leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. Effective January 1, 2018.

County “Pilot” Programs to Spend Child Care Dollars

AB 258, (Arambula), AB 300, (Caballero), AB 377, (Frazier, Gonzalez Fletcher), and  AB 435, (Thurmond) give permission to the following counties to develop flexible spending plans (also known as “pilots”) for their state and federal child care dollars: Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Benito, Solano and San Diego Counties Contra Costa, Marin, and Sonoma.  San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, and Santa Clara already had county pilot programs. AB 435 amended Alameda’s program.

A county spending plan may now deviate from the statewide guidelines for child care program reimbursement rates and family-eligibility criteria. The county spending plan must be approved by the county Board of Supervisors and the California Department of Education, and reviewed by the Department of Social Services.  County agencies must demonstrate that more children are served as a result of their plan. The laws are set to expire January 1, 2023.

ESL and GED Classes Justify Child Care Assistance

AB 273 (Aguiar-Curry) clarifies that parents who receive state subsidized child care can take English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and coursework to obtain a high school diploma or general educational development certificate (GED).  Effective January 1, 2018, a parent will no longer need to show that the coursework will lead directly to a recognized trade, paraprofession, or profession.  Nor does the statute place any limitation on the number of years to complete, or the type of school at which it must be completed. Compare, Ed. Code § 8263(a)(1)(B)(ii)(I) and (II). Effective January 1, 2018.

Assistance to Pay for Diapers

AB 480 (Gonzalez Fletcher) provides an additional $30/month in diaper cost assistance to CalWORKs Welfare-to-Work participants whose children are under three years old.  This additional aid becomes effective April 1, 2018, and will be initially implemented through an All-County Letter until regulations are adopted by January 1, 2020.  The cost to counties of funding this diaper assistance will be determined by the Commission on State Mandates, and they shall be reimbursed for those costs.

Electronic Banking for Alternative Payment Programs

AB 603 (Quirk-Silva)  requires that, by July 1, 2019, Alternative Payment Programs (APPs) establish electronic banking for payments made to licensed or license-exempt child care providers who have a contract with that APP. It also requires APPs provide written and/or electronic notice to a child care provider of any changes to their reimbursement amount.

Procedures Before Expelling Preschoolers

AB 752 (Rubio) requires procedural protections before expelling or dis-enrolling a child from a state preschool program.  Before expelling or dis-enrolling a child with “persistent and serious challenging behaviors,” the contracting agency must first make and document reasonable steps, including consulting with the child’s parents/legal guardians and teachers, to continue the child’s safe participation in the program.

If the child has an individualized family service plan (IFSP) or individualized education plan (IEP), the agency must also consult with the agency that completed that plan. If the agency determines that the child continues to present a serious safety threat to herself/himself or other children in the school, the agency must refer the parents/legal guardians to other potentially appropriate placements, including the local child care resource and referral agency, before expelling or dis-enrolling the child. Effective January 1, 2018.

Extension to Spend Child Care Funds

AB 1106 (Weber) allows alternative payment programs (APPs) no less than 36 months to expend funds allocated to them in any fiscal year.  The effect could be to reduce the amount of funds that revert to the General Fund each year, and maximize the enrollment of eligible families into state child care.  The law excludes CalWORKs Stage 2 and Stage 3 contracts from this 36-month provision. Effective January 1, 2018.

The State Budget

AB 99, The Budget Act of 2017, updates the income eligibility requirements for subsidized child care programs, adopts a graduated phase-out of eligibility at 85% of State Median Income (SMI), and guarantees at least 12 months eligibility for child care (previously reported here). Assembly Bill (AB) 99, 2017-18 Session, amending Ed. Code § 8263 and 8263.1. This trailer bill language in the budget adopted all of the provisions of AB 60 (Santiago), making passage of the bill unnecessary. These provisions became effective on July 1, and CDE  issued implementation guidance: MB 17-08 State Median Income (Initial Certification), MB 17-09, Graduated Phase-out (Recertification), MB 17-10, Updated Income Rankings, MB 17-11, Revised Family Fee Schedule and MB 17-14, 12 Month Eligibility.

Other Bills Impacting Low Income Children and Families

Stronger Policies to Keep Families Together

SB 54 (deLeὀn), “The California Values Act,” limits the involvement of state and local law enforcement agencies in federal immigration enforcement except where there is a serious or violent felony. SB 54 also requires state and local law enforcement, public schools, public libraries, and health facilities to keep information and databases confidential.  By October 1, 2018, the California Attorney General will publish model policies to implement the confidentiality provisions.  While most child care centers are not specifically covered by this law, these model policies will be useful for programs wanting to protect the confidentiality of family information. (Various implementation dates).

Protection to Form A Union

SB 306 (Hertzberg) protects workers who are exercising their right to form a union from retaliation, allowing them to return to their jobs while retaliation charges are being investigated. Effective January 1, 2018.

CalWORKs Eligibility for Victims of Domestic Violence

AB 557 (Gonzalez Fletcher) allows certain CalWORKs families who have experienced domestic violence to be eligible for CalWORKs homeless assistance and good cause exemptions from school participation and immunization requirements.  This bill becomes effective on July 1, 2018.

CalWORKs Eligibility for Veterans

SB 570 (Newman) disallows benefits for education, training, vocation, or rehabilitation and related allowances through the United States Department of Veterans Affair from being counted as income for determining eligibility for CalWORKs. Effective January 1, 2018.

AB 1520 (Burke) creates the “Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force.” CDSS must convene a task force to investigate and recommend future comprehensive strategies to reduce deep poverty among children and reduce the overall child poverty rate in the state. The law requires a report to be completed by November 1, 2018 and submitted to the Legislature.

Bills of Interest Introduced but Not Passed in 2016-2017

AB 26 (Caballero) would have established a pilot program to provide outreach, training, and technical assistance to license-exempt child care providers through county child care resource and referral programs.  The Governor’s veto message was, “a new pilot program, undifferentiated from existing programs, seems unnecessary…” could use link to veto message

AB 231 (Chavez) would have increased the income eligibility limits for subsidized child care and created a new family fee schedule.  The Assembly hearing on the bill was canceled at the request of the author and Assemblymember Chavez supported similar language in the state Budget Act 2017.

AB 540 (Mullin) would have increased the maximum amount allowed for administrative and support services provided by Alternative Payment Providers from 17.5% of the total contract to 17.6% of the total contract amount.  After the author amended this bill, it was re-referred to the Assembly Committee on Human Services and did not make it out of committee.

AB 605 (Mullin) would have created a single birth to first grade license option for child care centers.  The Department of Social Services would have adopted regulations as of January 1, 2019 to develop and implement this single license option, in accordance with specified requirements.  Sent back to the Assembly Committee on Human Services after being amended and did not make it out of committee.

AB 676 (Limὀn), “The Child Care Caregiver Safety Training Act,” would have required a one-time, two hour, peer-led occupational safety and health training for all early education care providers.  This bill was held in suspense in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

AB 1250 (Jones-Sawyer) would have made it more difficult for counties to contract with nonprofit agencies to deliver services “currently or customarily performed by county employees.”  This bill was opposed by a broad coalition of nonprofit organizations, including those who hold the Stage One child care contracts in their county.  This bill was referred to the Senate Rules Committee and was not released for a floor vote.