State child care regulations seek to ensure the health and safety of children in child care and to support families by providing care that promotes the emotional, cognitive, communicative, perceptual-motor, physical and social development of the child. Licensing regulations focus on the physical environment, child-staff ratios and maximum group size, staff qualifications and background, health, hygiene and program activities.
Licensing requirements for afterschool programs, when implemented effectively, can provide Pennsylvania with a number of potential benefits
Children’s health and safety are promoted. By setting baseline health and safety requirements for licensed programs, the primary purpose of licensing is to protect children from harm during the time spent in child care facilities.
Consumers have additional information to make choices. Knowing that a provider is licensed can be an important factor in parental decisions about where children spend their time.
Programs are monitored. Program monitoring provides a direct incentive to maintain minimum quality levels over time. Monitoring can also help programs identify areas they may need to improve and help to tailor Pennsylvania-sponsored provider training to meet program needs.
Better data exist on where children spend their time. When more programs are licensed, Pennsylvania has better information on where children spend their time when they are not at home or in school. Such data can help policymakers and leaders better understand state and local trends and family preferences for afterschool choices.
Policymakers and local leaders gain a more accurate picture of supply and demand for afterschool programs. Licensing generates information on program availability, proximity and children served that can help policymakers understand where gaps or duplication in programming exist and inform their decisions on where to allocate scarce resources. Knowing where programs exist also helps Pennsylvania and community resource and referral agencies to connect families with available programs in their communities.
Providers enjoy a natural network for information sharing. Licensed child care providers are often supported and introduced to families through Child Care Information Services (CCIS) agencies which are the hub of child care information in local areas. CCIS agencies provide families with information on quality child care and personalized child care referrals to child care providers based on families’ specific needs or preferences. CCIS agencies also administer the Child Care Works subsidized child care program.
Afterschool facilities in which out-of-home care is provided at any one time, for part of a 24-hour day to seven or more children, 15 years of age or younger – including care provided in private, public, profit or nonprofit facilities, before or after the hours of instruction in nonpublic schools, and in private nursery schools or kindergartens.
In Pennsylvania, there are four regulations regarding licensing.
Licensing requirements are not applicable to the following programs:
Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRC) improve the quality of and access to early learning services in the state and help families identify the best child care options that meet the needs of the child(ren) while offering connections to additional services, such as a child care subsidy.
ELRCs will provide a single point-of-contact for families, early learning service providers, and communities to gain information and access services that support high-quality child care and early learning programs.
Through the ELRC, child care professionals can obtain support in building quality outcomes for children by working with quality coaches to achieve Keystone STAR 3 and 4 status, building connections with community partners, and supporting children and families in accessing additional services, such as PA Pre-K Counts, Head Start, home-visiting, and Early Intervention.
All ELRCs will have a primary location in their designated region and most will have satellite offices. ELRCs will also partner with community organizations to meet families’ needs where they naturally congregate.