Del. Filler-Corn with parents, grandparents and advocates from Child Care Aware of Virginia.
In the 2016 General Assembly Session, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) has offered two bipartisan bills continuing her work in making child care safer in Virginia. Ensuring that child care facilities are licensed, regulated and safe has been a priority for Filler-Corn since 2014, when she first introduced legislation that would close that threshold gap for caring for children in an unlicensed day care, as well as requiring child care providers to go through an extensive background check which includes a fingerprint check to ensure that these providers are fully vetted and are who they say they are. “As a mother of two, I know first hand how stressful it can be to not only find child care, but know that your child is safe,” said Filler-Corn.
Last year the General Assembly passed legislation requiring a fingerprint check for licensed providers and those who are unlicensed who care for children receiving a childcare subsidy. This bill becomes effective in 2017. However, loopholes still remain. “If the law is not fixed, Virginia stands to lose $5 million annually through a reduction in federal child care funds,” according to Sharon Veatch, executive director of Child Care Aware Virginia.
Del. Filler-Corn’s first bill, HB 474, requires the Department of Social Services (DSS) to study child day centers that are licensed and exempt from licensure. Additionally DSS would be required to review all categories of child day programs exempt from licensure, formulate recommendations regarding whether such programs should remain exempt from licensure or whether any modifications that may be necessary to protect the health and well-being of the children receiving care in such programs, consider such other matters as may be necessary regarding health and safety requirements for licensed child day centers, and consult with all relevant stakeholders. Del. Filler-Corn’s second bill, HB 500, conforms Virginia’s child care background checks with federal requirements.
Both pieces of legislation were heard in the Health, Welfare and Institutions, Subcommittee #3. The subcommittee voted to continue HB 500 into the 2017 session. The full Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee then heard HB 474 on Tuesday, Feb. 9 and referred it to the House Committee on Rules. While the bill was tabled, they did however, direct the Department of Social Services to review both license and license-exempt care.