Child Care Certification Regulation Rewrite Project

Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is embarking on an initiative to rewrite the child care certification regulations. This rewrite is an opportunity for the early childhood and school-age community in Pennsylvania to co-create regulations in a way that builds stakeholder confidence in the process and:

  • Increases alignment with quality improvement
  • Promotes greater equity; and
  • Decreases burden experienced by child care providers

OCDEL has identified this initiative as Pennsylvania’s Impact Project through the Office of Child Care (OCC) State Capacity Building Center (SCBC). The SCBC Impact Project is a part of the continuum of technical assistance and capacity building offered by OCC. The SCBC Impact Project is designed to assist States and Territories with long-term individualized technical assistance (TA) as they develop and expand their systemic capacity in planning and implementing their own early childhood priorities, based on the State or Territory particular context, and vision and goals for the development of a strong early childhood system. The goal of the SCBC Impact Project is to support state early childhood systems leaders in successfully strengthening systems building for effective high-impact services that can improve outcomes for children and families.

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OCDEL staff are leading the Internal Work Groups (IWGs) for this initiative with the support from their various business partner organizations:

  • The Pennsylvania Key;
  • Early Intervention Technical Assistance (EITA);
  • Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRCs); and
  • Professional Development Organizations (PDOs).

The IWGs are using the Guiding Questions for Reviewing the OCDEL Child Care Certification Regulation Rewrite to address both the equity and quality lens and the ease of provider burden for the child care certification rewrite.

Drafts of the subchapters of the child care regulations were sent from the IWGs to the newly-formed ad-hoc subcommittee of the Early Learning Council (ELC). The Ad-Hoc Subcommittee, is made up of both ELC members and other stakeholders such as family, group and center child care providers and other subject matter experts, who have reviewed and provided input and suggestions for revisions. See the Ad Hoc Subcommittee members.

The IWGs then incorporated appropriate feedback before releasing this current proposed draft publicly for the early childhood community to review and provide feedback on as well.

The IWGs will consider all feedback and incorporate appropriate feedback into the final draft of the regulations before they are submitted through the formal Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) regulation process.

OCDEL launched the process for rewriting the child care certification regulations in October 2021. Draft regulations were developed using an iterative process of writing, reviewing and revisioning for each section of the certification regulations as illustrated by the graphic below. We are in the final stages of revisions now, which is collecting feedback from the entire early childhood community in Pennsylvania before the full proposed regulatory packet can be submitted for the formal regulatory review process in early fall of 2022. These timelines are tentative and necessarily flexible to accommodate the engagement process and feedback we receive.

OCDEL has recommended that each of the 2 Proposed Chapters will contain 5 Subchapters, organized in the following way:

Proposed Subchapter #1: Purpose and Authority – This proposed Subchapter might include the introduction to the regulations, and outline their purpose, applicability and definitions.

Proposed Subchapter #2: Family and Community – This proposed Subchapter might include regulations related to family engagement, communication with parents, procedures for admission, parent consent and services to a child with a developmental delay, disability or special healthcare need.

Proposed Subchapter #3: Professional Development (PD), Training & Requirements – This proposed Subchapter might include regulations related to facility persons including suitability, age, qualifications, responsibilities, professional development and preservice training.

Proposed Subchapter #4: Early Childhood Education Program – This proposed Subchapter might include regulations related to staff: child ratio, physical site, equipment, fire safety, the program, elements of child and adult health, nutrition, transportation, and adult records.

Proposed Subchapter #5: Program Certification & Oversite – This proposed Subchapter might include regulations related to general requirements for applications, appeals & waivers, building codes and insurance, child abuse reporting, departmental access, emergency plans, and the handling of child records.

While the regulations could be published as early as the fall of 2024, the effective dates for compliance with the new regulations will vary. Child care providers will be given a reasonable amount of time to comply with new regulations that are published. To assist providers in compliance with the new regulations, training, technical assistance and supporting documents will be developed and widely disseminated as we get closer to final publication of the regulations.