Florida Senate - 2012                                    SB 1758
       By Senator Flores
       38-01274A-12                                          20121758__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to early learning; amending s. 411.01,
    3         F.S.; revising the duties of the Office of Early
    4         Learning within the Department of Education; requiring
    5         that the Office of Early Learning develop and adopt by
    6         rule unified performance standards and outcome
    7         measures for school readiness programs; requiring that
    8         the Office of Early Learning adopt a statewide,
    9         standardized contract that is limited to state and
   10         federal requirements to be used by the early learning
   11         coalitions; requiring that the Office of Early
   12         Learning prohibit such coalitions from adopting
   13         addenda to the contract; revising provisions to
   14         conform to changes made by the act; amending s.
   15         411.01013, F.S.; defining the term “affordable parent
   16         contribution”; revising provisions relating to the
   17         prevailing market rate schedule adopted by the Office
   18         of Early Learning; requiring that the prevailing
   19         market rate schedule differentiate rates by the type
   20         of child care services provided for preschool-age
   21         children participating in the Voluntary
   22         Prekindergarten Education Program; requiring that the
   23         Office of Early Learning calculate a payment schedule
   24         equal to the prevailing market rate for each
   25         differentiated rate, minus the affordable parent
   26         contribution; amending s. 1002.71, F.S.; requiring
   27         that a school district offering the Voluntary
   28         Prekindergarten Education Program adopt procedures
   29         that separately account for the funds received and the
   30         expenses incurred for the program; providing an
   31         effective date.
   33  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   35         Section 1. Paragraph (e) of subsection (2), paragraph (d)
   36  of subsection (4), paragraph (d) of subsection (5), paragraph
   37  (c) of subsection (6), and paragraph (g) of subsection (9) of
   38  section 411.01, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
   39         411.01 School readiness programs; early learning
   40  coalitions.—
   41         (2) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.—
   42         (e) It is the intent of the Legislature that the school
   43  readiness program coordinate and operate in conjunction with the
   44  district school systems. However, it is also the intent of the
   45  Legislature that the school readiness program not be construed
   46  as part of the system of free public schools but rather as a
   47  separate program for children under the age of kindergarten
   48  eligibility, funded separately from the system of free public
   49  schools, using the affordable parent contribution as defined in
   50  s. 411.01013(1)(a) utilizing a mandatory sliding fee scale, and
   51  providing an integrated and seamless system of school readiness
   52  services for the state’s birth-to-kindergarten population.
   54  EDUCATION.—
   55         (d) The Office of Early Learning shall:
   56         1. Be responsible for the prudent use of all public and
   57  private funds in accordance with all legal and contractual
   58  requirements.
   59         2. Provide final approval and every 2 years review early
   60  learning coalitions and school readiness plans.
   61         3. Establish a unified approach to the state’s efforts
   62  toward enhancement of school readiness. In support of this
   63  effort, the Office of Early Learning shall adopt specific system
   64  support services that address the state’s school readiness
   65  programs. An early learning coalition shall amend its school
   66  readiness plan to conform to the specific system support
   67  services adopted by rule of the Office of Early Learning. System
   68  support services shall include, but are not limited to the
   69  following:
   70         a. Child care resource and referral services;
   71         b. Warm-Line services;
   72         c. Eligibility determinations;
   73         d. Child performance standards;
   74         e. Child screening and assessment;
   75         f. Developmentally appropriate curricula;
   76         g. Health and safety requirements;
   77         h. Statewide data system requirements; and
   78         i. Rating and improvement systems.
   79         4. Safeguard the effective use of federal, state, local,
   80  and private resources to achieve the highest possible level of
   81  school readiness for the children in this state.
   82         5. Adopt a rule establishing criteria for the expenditure
   83  of funds designated for the purpose of funding activities to
   84  improve the quality of child care within the state in accordance
   85  with s. 658G of the federal Child Care and Development Block
   86  Grant Act.
   87         6. Provide technical assistance to early learning
   88  coalitions in a manner determined by the Office of Early
   89  Learning based upon information obtained by the office from
   90  various sources, including, but not limited to, public input,
   91  government reports, private interest group reports, office
   92  monitoring visits, and coalition requests for service.
   93         7. In cooperation with the early learning coalitions,
   94  coordinate with the Child Care Services Program Office of the
   95  Department of Children and Family Services to minimize
   96  duplicating interagency activities, health and safety
   97  monitoring, and acquiring and composing data pertaining to child
   98  care training and credentialing.
   99         8. Develop and adopt by rule unified performance standards
  100  and outcome measures for school readiness programs. The
  101  performance standards must address the age-appropriate progress
  102  of children in the development of school readiness skills. The
  103  performance standards for children from birth to 5 years of age
  104  in school readiness programs must be integrated with the
  105  performance standards adopted by the Department of Education for
  106  children in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program
  107  under s. 1002.67.
  108         9. Adopt a statewide, standardized standard contract that
  109  is limited to state and federal requirements and that must be
  110  used by the coalitions when contracting with school readiness
  111  providers. In order to fulfill the legislative intent in
  112  paragraph (2)(c), the Office of Early Learning shall prohibit
  113  the coalitions from adopting addenda to the contract.
  115         (d) Implementation.—
  116         1. An early learning coalition may not implement the school
  117  readiness program until the coalition’s school readiness plan is
  118  approved by the Office of Early Learning.
  119         2. Each early learning coalition shall coordinate with one
  120  another to implement a comprehensive program of school readiness
  121  services which enhances the cognitive, social, physical, and
  122  moral character of the children to achieve the performance
  123  standards and outcome measures and which helps families achieve
  124  economic self-sufficiency. Such program must contain, at a
  125  minimum, the following elements:
  126         a. Implement the school readiness program to meet the
  127  requirements of this section and the system support services,
  128  performance standards, and outcome measures adopted by the
  129  Office of Early Learning.
  130         b. Demonstrate how the program will ensure that each child
  131  from birth through 5 years of age in a publicly funded school
  132  readiness program receives scheduled activities and instruction
  133  designed to enhance the age-appropriate progress of the children
  134  in attaining the performance standards adopted by the department
  135  under subparagraph (4)(d)8.
  136         c. Ensure that the coalition has solicited and considered
  137  comments regarding the proposed school readiness plan from the
  138  local community.
  140  Before implementing the school readiness program, the early
  141  learning coalition must submit the plan to the office for
  142  approval. The office may approve the plan, reject the plan, or
  143  approve the plan with conditions. The office shall review school
  144  readiness plans at least every 2 years.
  145         3. If the Office of Early Learning determines during the
  146  review of school readiness plans, or through monitoring and
  147  performance evaluations conducted under paragraph (4)(l), that
  148  an early learning coalition has not substantially implemented
  149  its plan, has not substantially met the performance standards
  150  and outcome measures adopted by the office, or has not
  151  effectively administered the school readiness program or
  152  Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program, the office may
  153  dissolve the coalition and temporarily contract with a qualified
  154  entity to continue school readiness and prekindergarten services
  155  in the coalition’s county or multicounty region until the office
  156  reestablishes the coalition and a new school readiness plan is
  157  approved in accordance with the rules adopted by the office.
  158         4. The Office of Early Learning shall adopt rules
  159  establishing criteria for the approval of school readiness
  160  plans. The criteria must be consistent with the system support
  161  services, performance standards, and outcome measures adopted by
  162  the office and must require each approved plan to include the
  163  following minimum standards for the school readiness program:
  164         a. A community plan that addresses the needs of all
  165  children and providers within the coalition’s county or
  166  multicounty region.
  167         b. A sliding fee scale establishing a copayment for parents
  168  based upon their ability to pay, which is the same for all
  169  program providers.
  170         b.c. A choice of settings and locations in licensed,
  171  registered, religious-exempt, or school-based programs to be
  172  provided to parents.
  173         c.d. Specific eligibility priorities for children in
  174  accordance with subsection (6).
  175         d.e. Performance standards and outcome measures adopted by
  176  the office.
  177         e.f. Payment rates adopted by the early learning coalitions
  178  and approved by the office. Payment rates may not have the
  179  effect of limiting parental choice or creating standards or
  180  levels of services that have not been expressly established by
  181  the Legislature, unless the creation of such standards or levels
  182  of service, which must be uniform throughout the state, has been
  183  approved by the Federal Government and result in the state being
  184  eligible to receive additional federal funds available for early
  185  learning on a statewide basis.
  186         f.g. Direct enhancement services for families and children.
  187  System support and direct enhancement services shall be in
  188  addition to payments for the placement of children in school
  189  readiness programs. Direct enhancement services for families may
  190  include parent training and involvement activities and
  191  strategies to meet the needs of unique populations and local
  192  eligibility priorities. Enhancement services for children may
  193  include provider supports and professional development approved
  194  in the plan by the Office of Early Learning.
  195         g.h. The business organization of the early learning
  196  coalition, which must include the coalition’s articles of
  197  incorporation and bylaws if the coalition is organized as a
  198  corporation. If the coalition is not organized as a corporation
  199  or other business entity, the plan must include the contract
  200  with a fiscal agent. An early learning coalition may contract
  201  with other coalitions to achieve efficiency in multicounty
  202  services, and these contracts may be part of the coalition’s
  203  school readiness plan.
  204         h.i. The implementation of locally developed quality
  205  programs in accordance with the requirements adopted by the
  206  office under subparagraph (4)(d)5.
  208  The Office of Early Learning may request the Governor to apply
  209  for a waiver to allow the coalition to administer the Head Start
  210  Program to accomplish the purposes of the school readiness
  211  program.
  212         5. Persons with an early childhood teaching certificate may
  213  provide support and supervision to other staff in the school
  214  readiness program.
  215         6. An early learning coalition may not implement its school
  216  readiness plan until it submits the plan to and receives
  217  approval from the Office of Early Learning. Once the plan is
  218  approved, the plan and the services provided under the plan
  219  shall be controlled by the early learning coalition. The plan
  220  shall be reviewed and revised as necessary, but at least
  221  biennially. An early learning coalition may not implement the
  222  revisions until the coalition submits the revised plan to and
  223  receives approval from the office. If the office rejects a
  224  revised plan, the coalition must continue to operate under its
  225  prior approved plan.
  226         7. Section 125.901(2)(a)3. does not apply to school
  227  readiness programs. The Office of Early Learning may apply to
  228  the Governor and Cabinet for a waiver of, and the Governor and
  229  Cabinet may waive, any of the provisions of ss. 411.223 and
  230  1003.54, if the waiver is necessary for implementation of school
  231  readiness programs.
  232         8. Two or more early learning coalitions may join for
  233  purposes of planning and implementing a school readiness
  234  program.
  235         (6) PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY.—The school readiness program is
  236  established for children from birth to the beginning of the
  237  school year for which a child is eligible for admission to
  238  kindergarten in a public school under s. 1003.21(1)(a)2. or who
  239  are eligible for any federal subsidized child care program. Each
  240  early learning coalition shall give priority for participation
  241  in the school readiness program as follows:
  242         (c) Subsequent priority shall be given to a child who meets
  243  one or more of the following criteria:
  244         1. A child who is younger than the age of kindergarten
  245  eligibility and:
  246         a. Is at risk of welfare dependency, including an
  247  economically disadvantaged child, a child of a participant in
  248  the welfare transition program, a child of a migratory
  249  agricultural worker, or a child of a teen parent.
  250         b. Is a member of a working family that is economically
  251  disadvantaged.
  252         c. For whom financial assistance is provided through the
  253  Relative Caregiver Program under s. 39.5085.
  254         2. A 3-year-old child or 4-year-old child who may not be
  255  economically disadvantaged but who has a disability; has been
  256  served in a specific part-time exceptional education program or
  257  a combination of part-time exceptional education programs with
  258  required special services, aids, or equipment; and was
  259  previously reported for funding part time under the Florida
  260  Education Finance Program as an exceptional student.
  261         3. An economically disadvantaged child, a child with a
  262  disability, or a child at risk of future school failure, from
  263  birth to 4 years of age, who is served at home through a home
  264  visitor program and an intensive parent education program.
  265         4. A child who meets federal and state eligibility
  266  requirements for the migrant preschool program but who is not
  267  economically disadvantaged.
  269  As used in this paragraph, the term “economically disadvantaged”
  270  means having a family income that does not exceed 150 percent of
  271  the federal poverty level. Notwithstanding any change in a
  272  family’s economic status, but subject to the affordable parent
  273  contribution additional family contributions in accordance with
  274  the sliding fee scale, a child who meets the eligibility
  275  requirements upon initial registration for the program remains
  276  eligible until the beginning of the school year for which the
  277  child is eligible for admission to kindergarten in a public
  278  school under s. 1003.21(1)(a)2.
  280         (g) All cost savings and all revenues received through the
  281  affordable parent contribution a mandatory sliding fee scale
  282  shall be used to help fund each early learning coalition’s
  283  school readiness program.
  284         Section 2. Subsection (1), paragraph (b) of subsection (3),
  285  and subsection (5) of section 411.01013, Florida Statutes, are
  286  amended to read:
  287         411.01013 Prevailing market rate schedule.—
  288         (1) As used in this section, the term:
  289         (a) “Affordable parent contribution” means 10 percent of
  290  the annual family income.
  291         (b)(a) “Market rate” means the price that a child care
  292  provider charges for daily, weekly, or monthly child care
  293  services.
  294         (c)(b) “Prevailing market rate” means the annually
  295  determined 75th percentile of a reasonable frequency
  296  distribution of the market rate in a predetermined geographic
  297  market at which child care providers charge a person for child
  298  care services.
  299         (3) The prevailing market rate schedule, at a minimum,
  300  must:
  301         (b) Differentiate rates by the type of child care services
  302  provided for children with special needs or risk categories,
  303  infants, toddlers, preschool-age children, preschool-age
  304  children participating in the Voluntary Prekindergarten
  305  Education Program, and school-age children.
  306         (5) In order to enable parents to work and be financially
  307  self-sufficient as provided in s. 411.01(4)(a), the Office of
  308  Early Learning shall calculate a payment schedule equal to the
  309  prevailing market rate for each differentiated rate, minus the
  310  affordable parent contribution. The prevailing market rate shall
  311  be considered by an early learning coalition in the adoption of
  312  a payment schedule in accordance with s. 411.01(5)(e)2.
  313         Section 3. Subsection (10) is added to section 1002.71,
  314  Florida Statutes, to read:
  315         1002.71 Funding; financial and attendance reporting.—
  316         (10) A school district that offers the Voluntary
  317  Prekindergarten Education Program pursuant to s. 1002.61 or s.
  318  1002.63 shall adopt procedures that separately account for the
  319  funds received and the expenses incurred for the program.
  320         Section 4. This act shall take effect July 1, 2012.