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This page was last updated on January 16, 2019

ODACS Legislative Update, 2019 Session

Following is a summary of several bills that ODACS is following during the 2019 General Assembly.

Childcare

HB 2458, SB 1095, and SB 1313 - Transfer of Childcare Policy Between Departments

These identical bills transfer authority for all childcare/preschool licensing and licensure exemption policy from purview of the Department of Social Services to the purview of the Department of Education.  While ODACS supports the general idea of the transfer of authority, we have a number of serious concerns that we believe the General Assembly needs to address before it passes these bills.

ODACS is currently taking no position on these bills.

Text of SB 1095

Action Alert:  Please write to your delegate and senator today to express your concern!

Sample Letter of Concern, to Delegates and Senators

 

HB 1627 - Prioritizing VDSS Inspections of Childcare Facilities

HB 1627 would require the Department of Social Services to place higher priority on inspections of licensed childcare agencies and on childcare agencies that receive taxpayer subsidies than on license exempt childcare agencies that do not receive taxpayer subsidies.

ODACS Supports HB 1627

Text of HB 1627

 

HB 2043 - Portability of Background Checks for Childcare/Preschool Employees

HB 2043 would make backgrounds checks for childcare and private preschool workers more portable from childcare center to childcare center, thus preventing unnecessary repetition of background checks.

ODACS Supports HB 2043

Text of HB 2043


ODACS Legislative Update, 2018 Session

Childcare

SB 539 - Restructuring of Virginia's Childcare Licensure Exemption Code

SB 539 was the 2018 version of 2017's SB 1239.  The bill significantly restructured Virginia's list of childcare licensure exemptions.  Through ODACS efforts, the bill removed church ministries such as Sunday school and nurseries from the list and placed them in a new list, redefining them as not being child day programs under the law and therefore as not being subject to licensure.  The bill required all remaining licensure exemptions (instead of just the Religious Exemption) to be registered annually with the state, and it placed new minimum safety requirements on exempt childcare centers that previously had no requirements whatsoever.  The bill also added new requirements to Religiously Exempt childcare centers.

ODACS supported SB 539 but sought several amendments.  Several of the amendments were designed to limit VDSS's authority to define new requirements by placing those definitions in Code instead of in regulations.  Some of those requirements include safe sleep for infants and mandated reporting of fatalities and of serious physical injuries.  Another amendment maintained current, instead of stricter, pupil to student ratios for school-age children in before- and after-school care.

ODACS Supported SB 539, with several amendments; all of the ODACS amendments were adopted by the General Assembly, and the bill was passed into law with an effective date of July 1, 2019.


HB 545 - Religious Exemption from Childcare Licensure

HB 545 required 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 arose 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 provided the Religious Exemption an important layer of protection against abuse.  Delegate Nick Freitas was the patron of HB 545.

ODACS Supported HB 545; HB 545 was passed into law.


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 expanded these same rules to schools or daycares with preschool age children.  The bill essentially codified what is already the status quo in ODACS ministries.  Senator Louise Lucas is the patron of SB 79.

ODACS Supported SB 79; SB 79 failed to pass.


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

HB 873 extended the sunset clause from Chapter 751 of the Act of Assembly of 2017 by two years to July 1, 2020, whereas SB 121 would have repealed the sunset clause.  This clause previously set the end of 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 Supported HB 873; ODACS Opposed SB 121; SB 121 was amended to delay the sunset clause until 2020, and the bills were passed into law.

Text of HB 873; Text of SB 121

ODACS Statement on SB 121


ODACS Legislative Update, 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, with amendments; the governor vetoed the bill because of an amendment that was favorable to ODACS.

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; the bills were passed into law.

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.)