State Government Issues

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ODACS Legislative Update, 2018 Session

Following is a summary of several bills that ODACS is following during the 2018 General Assembly.

Childcare

HB 545 - Religious Exemption from Childcare Licensure

HB 545 would require that the person in charge of a church-run daycare or preschool NOT be a person who is ineligible to operate any other kind of child welfare agency, such as a licensed daycare.  The bill arises from a case in which a small child died in a Religious Exempt daycare being run by a person who had previously run a licensed center that was about to be closed by VDSS because of numerous safety violations.  ODACS believes that this bill provides the Religious Exemption an important layer of protection against abuse.  Delegate Nick Freitas is the patron of HB 545.

ODACS Supports HB 545

Text of HB 545


SB 79 - Firearms on Preschool or Daycare Property

It is currently against the law to possess a firearm on the property of a private school that operates any or all of grades K-12.  However, the law does permit the private school to have a trained and armed security officer.  SB 79 expands these same rules to schools or daycares with preschool age children.  The bill essentially codifies what is already the status quo in ODACS ministries.  Senator Louise Lucas is the patron of SB 79.

ODACS Supports SB 79

Text of SB 79


HB 873 and SB 121 - Background Checks for Church-Run Preschools and Daycares

HB 873 would extend the sunset clause from Chapter 751 of the Act of Assembly of 2017 by two years to July 1, 2020, whereas SB 121 would repeal the sunset clause.  This clause currently ends the FBI fingerprint background check requirement for Religious Exempt childcare centers after July 1, 2018.  While ODACS ministries support and practice reasonable child safety measures, we are convinced that there is more than meets the eye with the new background check requirement.  1.  We believe that the state has failed to satisfactorily make the case that the current system of state police background checks is unsafe.  2.  HB 1568 and SB 897 from the 2017 session (scroll down for more information) were offered in response to new federal rules placed on childcare centers that DO NOT receive federal funding as a means of qualifying childcare centers that DO receive federal funding.  This means of dispersing government subsidies is fundamentally unfair and establishes a new slippery slope - potentially a means whereby the government can coerce church-run ministries in matters of conscience as well as in matters of safety.  There is data that suggests that Religious Exempt childcare centers are among the safest in the state, if not the safest in the state.  Nevertheless, these centers are often viewed with suspicion and treated as unsafe by proponents of universal licensure.  ODACS is convinced that the new federal rules arise from just such an unwarranted suspicion.

ODACS Supports HB 873; ODACS Opposes SB 121

Text of HB 873; Text of SB 121

ODACS Statement on SB 121


ODACS Legislative Update, 2017 Session

Following is a summary of some bills that ODACS followed during the 2017 session.

Childcare

SB 1239 - Restructuring of Virginia's Child Care Licensure Exemption Code

SB 1239 would have overhauled the current list of child care licensure exemptions in Virginia Code.  Among the changes was a new list that defines certain kinds of child care as not being child day centers; included in this new list are church ministries such as Sunday school and church nurseries.  The bill also includes several changes for Religious Exempt daycares.  ODACS has spent much time negotiating the details of these changes and trying to ensure that the bill does not give VDSS any new regulatory authority over our ministries.  On May 4, 2017, Governor McAuliffe vetoed SB 1239.

ODACS supported SB 1239.

Veto Press Release from the Office of the Governor

ODACS Response to Governor's Recommendations

Chart - Virginia Childcare Safety Gap

Chart - Virginia Childcare Center Child Abuse Data

 

HB 1568 and SB 897 - New Requirements for Virginia Daycares, as Conditions for Receipt of Federal Funding

HB 1568 and SB 897 place new background check requirements on Religious Exempt daycares, as a condition for receipt of federal funding by other daycares, despite the fact that our daycares have no desire to receive federal funding.  The pretext for such executive and bureaucratic overreach is child safety, even though no safety problem has been identified in Religious Exempt Centers.  ODACS contends that Relgious Exempt daycare centers are among the safest in Virginia, if not the safest!

ODACS Opposed HB 1568 and SB 897.

Sample Letter to Delegate or Senator

Sample Talking Points

Proposed Amendments to HB 1568

ODACS Committee Testimony on HB 1568

Excerpt from Federal Government Rules, Discussing Bureaucratic Overreach

Chart - Virginia Childcare Center Safety Gap

Chart - Virginia Childcare Center Child Abuse Data


Washington Post Article, Advocating Stronger Standards in Child Day Homes

Blog Post, Addressing Incorrect Claims in the WP Article

Washington Post Article, Documenting Tragic Deaths in Licensed and Unlicensed Virginia Daycares

 

Graduation Requirements, Definition of High School Credit, and Other State Standards

While private schools in Virginia are not legally bound to the same graduation requirements as public schools, Christian schools should be aware of changes in state requirements and understand how their own requirements compare.  AACS accredited schools must meet the state's graduation requirements.  Use the following links to learn more.

Current Virginia Standards of Accreditation

Current Guidance Document for SOA

Department of Education, SOA Web Site

Other Resources

FREE BROCHURE from CLA - Pastors, Pulpits, and Politics

Immunization Requirements

Immunization Reporting Web Site

(Note:  You may contact either ODACS or VDH to obtain the password for the reporting website.)