Legislative Corner

ASSOCIATION OF EARLY LEARNING COALITIONS

Summary of Senate Bill 1974

Overview

SB 1974 is an ‘act relating to early learning funding’, designed as a conforming bill for changes planned for Florida’s early learning budget. It modifies s. 411.01, Florida Statutes, rather than repealing 411.01 and creating a new early learning statute as proposed by the House. It focuses on increasing direct service expenditures for the birth to five population, the adoption of a uniform chart of accounts, and creation of uniform statewide provider agreements and payment rates.

Major Changes

Eligibility Priorities

- SB 1974 prioritizes services to eligible children from birth to kindergarten and removes school-age children without siblings in SR from eligibility. Priority is given, in order, to:

- A child from birth to age 12 from a family with an adult receiving temporary cash assistance

- An at-risk child from birth to age 12 who is served by the DCF Family Safety Program Office

- A child from birth to kindergarten who is from a working family that is economically disadvantaged or a child who has special needs (3-5 years) with a current IEP

- A child younger than 13 years of age who is a sibling of a child enrolled in the SR Program

- Last priority to a child who meets the eligibility priority but who is also enrolled concurrently in Head Start and VPK

Uniform Chart of Accounts

Requires OEL to adopt a uniform chart of accounts for budgeting and financial purposes, which provides standard definitions for expenditures and reports for direct services for children, administrative costs, nondirect expenditures, and quality. It also requires that OEL prioritize funds for direct services.

Preassessment and Postassessment

Requires OEL to identify a preassessment and postassessment aligned with the child performance standards to be administered by providers to each child participating in a SR program.

Statewide Standardized SR Contract

Requires OEL to adopt a statewide SR contract to be used by coalitions when contracting with SR providers. Coalitions are prohibited from adopting addenda to the contract.

Statewide Contract Monitoring Tool

Requires OEL to adopt a statewide standardized contract monitoring tool for coalitions to use when monitoring compliance of SR providers under the statewide contract.

Fraud Prevention and Detection

- Requires OEL to coordinate with other state agencies to perform data matches on families participating in SR to ensure proper eligibility.

- Requires OEL to investigate coalitions, recipients, and providers relative to fraud or overpayment with authority to refer for criminal prosecution, civil enforcement, or refer to coalition.

- Gives coalition authority to pursue reimbursement through the court system, suspend or deny the provider or client from further participation, or create a repayment plan or other civil or administrative remedy.

- Requires suspension of provider contract for a minimum of 3 years for fraudulent misrepresentation of enrollment or attendance.

- Requires permanent suspension of contract for conviction of fraudulent eligibility, attendance or enrollment.

ASSOCIATION OF EARLY LEARNING COALITIONS

Modifies Health and Safety Requirements

Deletes the provision that health and safety requirements are satisfied by compliance with licensure.

Coalition Number and Mergers

Maintains language permitting 31 or fewer coalitions and lowers required number of children to be served to 1,700. Removes waiver language for mergers.

Parent Copayment

Requires a parent copayment of at least 10% of a family’s income but gives coalition authority to grant a waiver to the parent copayment on a case-by-case basis.

Expenditure Caps

Requires that no more than 18% may be used for administrative, nondirect, and quality expenditures and the administrative costs must not exceed 4%. OEL is given authority to provide a waiver to this limitation to any coalition during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 fiscal years (OEL notes that after two years ELIS will be operational and will result in cost savings).

Statewide Payment Rates

Requires OEL to adopt statewide payment rates based on the prevailing market rate, uniform by care level and provider type. Provider payments will be based on the statewide rate multiplied by the district cost differential.

VPK Good Cause Exemption

Requires OEL to establish criteria for good cause exemptions to VPK reenrollment clause.


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