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Proposed Rule Making on Child Care for Children Experiencing Homelessness

As organizations that serve and advocate on behalf of children and families in New York City, we are writing to provide comments regarding the proposed regulations on child care for children experiencing homelessness.

The proposed regulations would make several positive changes to help children who are homeless access subsidized child care. In particular, we support the proposed regulations that would waive parent fees for families who are homeless and that would provide a higher rate for licensed and registered child care providers that serve children who are homeless.

In order to reduce barriers to child care access for children experiencing homelessness, we are recommending two changes to the proposed regulations:

First, we recommend amending the proposed regulations to require social services districts to make all children who are homeless eligible for child care subsidies to the extent they have funding available.

Second, we recommend amending the proposed regulations to require child care providers to give families of children who are homeless and children in foster care a grace period of 90 days to comply with documentation requirements. 1) Recommendation for Categorical Eligibility for Children Experiencing Homelessness: Comments on 18 NYCRR Section 415.2(a)(2) and (a)(3)

The proposed regulations would require social services districts to provide child care to the extent they have funds available to children who are homeless only if child care is needed for the child’s parent to seek housing and for the child’s parent to seek employment, to be engaged in work, or to attend educational or vocational activities. While many families who are homeless are eligible for child care under current eligibility rules, and additional families who are homeless would be eligible under the new proposed regulations, the proposed regulations would leave some children who are homeless ineligible for child care. The children left out must spend much of the day sitting in a shelter or other temporary living arrangement and being dragged to stressful housing and social services appointments instead of spending time in a high-quality, safe, stimulating child care setting where they can learn and develop.

Currently, the regulations allow a social services district to choose to make all income-eligible children who are homeless eligible for subsidized child care to the extent they have funds available. However, the proposed regulations would eliminate this local option. We understand that New York City recently submitted a plan to the State for approval proposing to make all income-eligible children experiencing homelessness eligible for child care subsidies.

However, the proposed regulations would stop New York City from implementing its proposed plan. Thus, the proposed regulations would force the City to roll back its efforts to help connect children experiencing homelessness with safe, educational, developmentally appropriate child care settings.

Categorical eligibility for children experiencing homelessness would make it easier for families experiencing homelessness and the staff members assisting them to navigate the subsidized child care process and would help ensure that young children experiencing homelessness are able to learn and develop in a safe, supportive environment. We recommend that New York State amend its proposed regulations to require social services districts to make all children who are homeless eligible for a child care subsidy to the extent they have funding available.

2) Recommendation for Required Grace Period of 90 Days: Comments on 18 NYCRR Section 415.4(f)(7)(v)(w)

The federal Child Care and Development Block Grant requires states to establish a grace period to allow children experiencing homelessness and children in foster care to receive child care services while their families, including foster families, take any necessary action to comply with immunization and other health and safety requirements.

New York State’s federally-approved 2016-2018 child care plan states that it will require child care programs to allow for at least a 90-day grace period for families experiencing homelessness to provide the necessary documentation to show that immunization and other enrollment requirements have been met, so that placement in child care can be immediate. Furthermore, proposed federal Head Start regulations would require a 90-day grace period for families experiencing homelessness.

However, the proposed state regulations do not require child care providers to provide any grace period for children experiencing homelessness and children in foster care. The regulations continue to state that licensed child care providers are prohibited from serving a child who is younger than school-aged unless they have received a medical statement signed by a health care provider. While the regulations allow a child care provider to choose to serve a child experiencing homelessness for up to 14 days without having immunization records, the regulations do not require a child care provider to give any grace period.

Furthermore, for a family who is homeless and has lost all records, 14 days is not a reasonable period of time in which to require a family to obtain immunization and other records. Such a strict timeline would be a barrier to child care access among children experiencing homelessness and children in foster care. Ninety days is far more reasonable. In addition, in New York City, where many of our contracted EarlyLearn NYC programs are dually funded through Head Start and child care, it is important to align the grace period for Head Start and child care.

We recommend amending the proposed regulations to require child care providers to give families of children in foster care a grace period of 90 days to comply with documentation requirements.

Thank you for considering our comments.

Advocates for Children of New York
Center for Children’s Initiatives
The Children’s Aid Society Citizens’
Committee for Children of New York
Coalition for the Homeless
The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc.
Day Care Council of New York
Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies
Harlem Children’s Zone
The Legal Aid Society
United Neighborhood Houses