New Regulations Burden Childcare Providers

“Tell me about rules that defy common sense—rules that hinder job creation—slow progress… I can promise, North Carolina will listen to you.” – Governor Bev Perdue

While Gov. Bev Perdue announced recently that there would be no new rules allowed to encumber businesses, a universally applauded measure to help expedite the economic recovery effort, the wheels were already in motion for a new and particularly onerous regulation on childcare providers, known as Early Educator Certification (EEC). This new regulation will likely have a negative impact on the cost and availability of childcare in North Carolina.

Certification is performed by the North Carolina Institute for Child Development Professionals, also referred to as “the institute,” a non-profit with ties to Child Care Services Association (CCSA), another non-profit that runs government-funded childcare programs across the state. The institute promotes a scholarship program called TEACH, run by CCSA, that could offset some of the costs of certification requirements.

What started as a voluntary certification program for teachers and other childcare workers turned into a state mandate last year, as the EEC requirement subtly slipped through the General Assembly during the last legislative session. On August 2, 2010, EEC became a state requirement for all teachers and other staff working in early childcare. Now the over 12,000 childcare workers across the state will have to be certified, adding another mandate to an already heavily regulated industry. Many in the childcare community question why their input was not solicited before instituting this extra regulation.

“Child care providers were not given an opportunity to provide input into certification prior to it being incorporated into law.  Any input provided was related to certification when it was still a voluntary process,” commented Linda Piper, Executive Director of the North Carolina Licensed Child Care Association (NCLCCA).

Childcare is already one of the most regulated industries in the state, being monitored by a large variety of government agencies including the Division of Child Development, Sanitation, and Fire Inspector, among others. Childcare agencies are currently assessed according to a “star rating system,” which awards stars to childcare centers according to meeting or exceeding standards set by the government.

The Early Educator Certification (EEC) adds an additional layer of bureaucracy to an already complicated system of rules and requirements. Instead of just licensing the childcare center, now individuals in the childcare industry will also have to be certified. The EEC is a requirement for childcare teaching staff, home childcare providers, and even childcare administrators.

There are costs associated with the certification process. Individuals applying for certification will now have to pay $50-$65, and $25-$35 to renew their application every three to five years. However, the more strenuous aspect of certification comes in the in-service training requirements that childcare providers will be subjected to.

Current education requirements stipulate that a teacher with a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood receives 25 clock hours of training over the course of five years. Now, that requirement will be more than doubled – mandating a teacher receive 60 clock hours in that same time span.

The teaching sessions are qualified as a Continuing Education Unit (CEU), and a single CEU can be as expensive as $79, others CEU courses can cost around $66. According the institute, five clock hours is equal to .5 CEUs, which could put the overall cost for in-service training over $400.

While certification is said to be the responsibility of the individual teacher, the burden ultimately falls on childcare providers. If a teacher does not meet the increased education requirements for whatever reason, that teacher would not be able to renew their certification and would have to be fired. All new childcare employees must submit an application for EEC within 60 days of being hired. To maintain staff, childcare providers will be the ones policing their employees to ensure they are certified.

As Gov. Perdue has been assessing rules and regulations that burden hard-working industries in the state, she should consider this brand new and already unpopular regulation that is of great concern to many involved in childcare. EEC is an extra and unnecessary layer of bureaucracy that drives up the operating costs of childcare for providers and was instituted without the proper input from childcare workers who will now be subjected to it.

This article was posted in Economy by Andrew Henson on March 18, 2011 at 3:00 PM.

© 2011 The Civitas Institute. Visit us on the web at www.nccivitas.org.
This article can be found at http://www.nccivitas.org/2011/new-regulations-burden-childcare-providers/

Comments on this article

  • 1

    Georgia A Boulo
    Georgia A Boulo Mar 18, 2011 at 17:48

    I think this is a HORRIBLE idea. So many of the child care workers have a hard time getting the training hours now and they have little money. How will they get as much as twice as many hours and be able to pay for it? The turnover rate is high now and this will make it worse. I volunteer in a child care center as I am retired and I take a little training (12 hrs a year) but I will not do this so they will lose not only teachers but also volunteers.

  • 2

    Kay H.
    Kay H. Mar 19, 2011 at 12:41

    Mr. Henson,

    Thank you for initiating a wide-reaching dialogue about child care. By its nature, it’s an important one to engage in.

    With that said, I was somewhat surprised at your claim that “Childcare is already one of the most regulated industries in the state…” citing three regulatory requirements (day care licensing, sanitation and fire inspections). Considering what’s at stake –- the education, health, and safety of young children — this seems relatively lax. While I haven’t researched the issue recently, I do remember a time, pre-Smart Start, that cosmetologists and morticians in NC were held to a higher standard. I also remember a time when injuries and even deaths in child care programs were more commonplace, pre-Smart Start, pre-regulatory expansions.

    To argue that early childhood educators and their employers should not be held to a uniform, minimum standard of training and education while being charged with the care and teaching of very young children seems indefensible. These children are most vulnerable and their well-being must be assured. The most reliable way to gain that assurance is through oversight and accountability. I say that as a parent, a taxpayer, and one who is committed to assuring that our state remains increasingly competitive in the marketplace for years to come.

    You have visibly assumed the position as an advocate for working parents in this debate, concerning yourself primarily with the cost and affordability of child care. It would be more convincing and less an ideological, hypothetical argument for you to share your own experiences as a parent of a young child in care. Is your child in a high quality program? If so, are you reassured, knowing that your child’s teachers are well-trained and educated and generally, held to a high standard of care? Would you feel just as comfortable with more children and fewer teachers in your child’s classroom, as your argument for serving more families via DSS-based subsidy alone goes? As a parent, your arguments seem counter-intuitive.

    Again, thank you for the part you’ve played in drawing attention to the importance of adequate funding for child care. Despite our apparent differences on how those funds should best be spent, on their importance we seem to agree.

  • 3

    Catie
    Catie Mar 21, 2011 at 11:02

    Dear Kay H,

    I applaud that you are looking into the issue. However, I would like to point out that child care licensing standards already include a standard for teacher education. In fact, half of the points for a star license are based in teacher education and that education has to be centered in EARLY education/child development. So certification (EEC) does not affect quality care for young children or enhance to licensing system at all. I personally see no reason for EEC to not stay a voluntary certification.

    My other issue with EEC is that the $50+ go to a private non-profit but the state has to regulate this EEC. So it seems that in budget crunch year the state will have to pay for something that a private company gets the money for.

    I am in favor of a certification system. But I am not in favor of a private company getting the money or of more standards that do not increase quality care for children.

  • 4

    Cathy
    Cathy Mar 21, 2011 at 13:53

    Catie,

    I agree. Childcare Licensing, especially for those seeking a higher star rating, has already set educational expectations on staff working in the classrooms, and on administration of child care centers in the state of NC. The EEC is proposing an alternative, but if adopted by the Division of Child Development, and written into rule; an increased and mandatory ongoing educational expectation. This is on top of currently required college coursework, and ongoing training requirements in the state. On a voluntary basis, maintaining certification requirements, may be exciting,challenging and inspiring for some, but to many,the excess fees, and the long contact hours required, will be too much to expect, and inevitably, the childcare centers in the state will be taxed with having to pay for and maintain the expectations on behalf of their employees if we are to provide consistent care for our children, decrease turnover, promote the field to college bound students, and maintain regulatory compliance. I am in agreement that safety, and quality regulations are important, but feel that we should work on supporting those already in place, and stop moving the target around on our work force and small business struggling to provide high quality care for children.

  • 5

    Journalist
    Journalist Mar 21, 2011 at 17:17

    It is with great dismay as a journalist that I continue to read the poor and biased reporting of this organization.

    Clearly you have not done your homework or talked with athe Institute or balanced your sources. With just a few clicks of a mouse I have already discovered that this report is largely inaccurate, only one “source” which serves less than 300 individuals of an over 47,000 person field (see economic development reports), the list goes on.

    The biased approach to providing information about subjects you claim to “report on” has prompted myself and other leading journalists to support a certification for journalists. Thank you for once again solidifying the need for our field to take this step.

    Well done Early Educators! We’re following your lead.

  • 6

    PH
    PH Mar 21, 2011 at 17:35

    What profession isn’t certified? Why wouldn’t we want our children to be in child care programs where the teacher is educated? What child care association would work against that?

    Makes no sense to me.

  • 7

    Kay H.
    Kay H. Mar 21, 2011 at 20:16

    Catie:

    Your points about tying certifications to increasing qualifications is a good one. However, it’s my understanding that the teacher in-service training requirement of a limited number of clock hours per year (what is required for licensing) is quite different than implementing a standardized certification program for the profession that is based on qualifications. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Another objection you expressed is to routing the certification process through a private nonprofit corporation. [“My other issue with EEC is that the $50+ go to a private non-profit but the state has to regulate this EEC. So it seems that in budget crunch year the state will have to pay for something that a private company gets the money for.”]

    Many believe that contracting with the private sector is more cost- and outcome-efficient than increasing the size of government for the same purpose. When it comes to regulatory-related subcontracting –- which essentially is what this is — it will always be the responsibility of the government to oversee compliance. At least in theory, a private subcontractor can do as good the job for less money. The missing part to your comment above is that the private company will also be doing the work, not just getting the money. Oversight is a very different (and less costly) function than actually managing a program.

    Cathy says:

    “The EEC is proposing an alternative, but if adopted by the Division of Child Development, and written into rule; an increased and mandatory ongoing educational expectation.”

    As I indicated in my earlier comment, I believe ‘an increased and mandatory ongoing education expectation’ is a good thing for child care providers, parents, our economy, and especially, for children. The problem is when the cost becomes a burden or an obstacle. That’s why I believe we should all be advocating for the highest standards for the profession, and at the same time, adequate funding to alleviate the burden on these businesses and teachers for any additional expenses.

    The movement from day care providers to early educators has come at a cost, but it’s been an effort (and money) well-spent.

  • 8

    Andrew R
    Andrew R Mar 22, 2011 at 11:15

    Mr. Henson,

    Are you ignoring all the research that strongly suggests that the first years of a person’s life are critical to their growth and development? Does it not make sense to want the most qualified people possible working with young children? Of course mandating childcare workers to further their education and qualifications will be an initial ‘burden’ for current employees, but do you not see the longterm benefits of this program? Even at 5-star rated child care centers, sometimes the only requirement to be an employee is an 18 year old age requirement. Is that not a problem?

    Are you really advocating for the employees who can’t afford the certification? Where was your article when CCSA was offering the certification free of charge from Jan 2008 to Sept 2010 or when then when they offered scholarships through Dec 31 2010?

    Why are you trying to take down a non-profit organization who is simply trying to raise the credentials of child care workers? Are the most qualified and educated people going to seek professions in childcare when being a bagger at a grocery store holds the same level of prestige and pay? How can you be against any attempt to raise the bar for the educational system in this country? Are you that shortsighted? Do you know how the government determines how many prisons to build? They look at 3rd grade test scores. Education is the root of everything. If you destroy education, you create more problems for everybody in the long run. Period.

  • 9

    Hazel
    Hazel Mar 22, 2011 at 15:46

    In response to the journalist, Andrew and the PH:

    First let me respond to Andrew. You don’t know your child care rules and regulations if you think an 18 year old could be a 5 star rated center’s lead teacher! A lead teacher has to have 12 EDU (Early Childhood Education) credit hours from a college, plus credentials–another 4 credit hour course from a college and at least 1 year of experience. In addition to that, they must be willing to receive 10 training hours per year and CPR and First Aid. I don’t think your grocery store baggers are required to have that much education. Don’t get me wrong, education is extremely important but unless the State of NC can help offset all the costs then how are we supposed to pay for all this education. Most people in child care do not have health care because they can’t afford it!
    The child care industry has already been mandated by the State of NC to have certified staff. Each person has to have a certain amount of education in early childhood development. This ECE certificate is just an added burden to the staff and owners. The only way to make up this huge cost is to increase child care prices. In our county the unemployment rate is 12.5. How are we supposed to do this? We can’t and will not ever receive an Obama bailout! How does one come up with an extra $400 or $500 dollars to keep an ECE certificate current.
    I suggest that you read-up on what is already required of us before you add your stupid comments. Each staff member is required to obtain ten (10) hours of training a year, SIDS training for those working with infants every three years and CPR and First Aid in addition to their hours.

    We have one of the most important jobs in the world–caring for your children. Most of the people in this business are here because of our love for children–definitely not money as there is none in childcare.

  • 10

    Debra Torrence
    Debra Torrence Mar 22, 2011 at 15:47

    Please learn more about Early Educator Certfication by visiting wwww.ncicdp.org.

  • 11

    CMB
    CMB Mar 22, 2011 at 17:23

    There is much confusion yes much confusion. Why are directors overlooked in this process? Why are consultants confused? Why can’t the Division of Child Development approve CEUs.They can. Does anyone out there really, really understand the definition of CEU? It is a simple process Come on people. You can read an article in the “Child Care Exchange” magazine to earn a CEU. Reading a magazine article to receive CEUs. That’s all well and good but what happen to the words “skill set”? Certification seems and appear to be meaningless when it comes to skills. Teachers need skills. Certification doesn’t guarantee this. I doesn’t guarantee quality work or workers. Why would you need a clearing
    house to approve an Early Childhood Educator’s education? When there are already rules in place to monitor credentials.
    Please, lets revisit this whole process. We must get the Director of Health and Human Services involved as well as present this whole case to the Administration of Children and Family Services in Washington. Invesitgate, Investigate. Directors, hire the talent and train the skill. CEUs just may not do that.

  • 12

    CMB
    CMB Mar 22, 2011 at 17:25

    There is much confusion yes much confusion. Why are directors overlooked in this process? Why are consultants confused? Why can’t the Division of Child Development approve CEUs.They can. Does anyone out there really, really understand the definition of CEU? It is a simple process Come on people. You can read an article in the “Child Care Exchange” magazine to earn a CEU. Reading a magazine article to receive CEUs. That’s all well and good but what happen to the words “skill set”? Certification seems and appear to be meaningless when it comes to skills. Teachers need skills. Certification doesn’t guarantee this. It doesn’t guarantee quality work or workers. Why would you need a clearing house to approve an Early Childhood Educator’s education? When there are already rules in place to monitor credentials.
    Please, lets revisit this whole process. We must get the Director of Health and Human Services involved as well as present this whole case to the Administration of Children and Family Services in Washington. Invesitgate, Investigate. Directors, hire the talent and train the skill. CEUs just may not do that.

  • 13

    Andrew R
    Andrew R Mar 22, 2011 at 17:51

    Hazel,

    I should have said 4-star, not 5. I mistyped. With that said, I was speaking from experience working as a lead teacher at a 4 star child care center without any of those requirements. Many of my coworkers were 18-20 years old without any education past high school or any field related training. According to the Division of Child Development, the law requires a lead teacher to be age 18 with experience or in-service training. And that within 2 years the teacher must earn a community college credential BUT other options can take its place.

    Either way, why should early childhood educators of any star rating not be required to have a DEGREE in the field. Should we ask the childcare owners to pay for the costs and drive up the cost of childcare for parents? No. I know the reality of the present state of the economy and understand that cuts have to be made. But we have to think about the longterm effects of the decisions we make today.

    When a person decides to be a doctor, they understand that they will have to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into their education and qualification. They invest that money because of the rewards that path will bring – whatever they may be. Thats the way it works in almost all professions. Is asking an already underpaid staff to spend money out of their own pocket to further their education the greatest thing ever? No. But the certification was offered free for 21 months and more importantly, it’s a neccesary part of what should be an ongoing plan to increase the equality of education in this country.

    Imagine if Childcare school had the same prestige as Law school. How much better would our country be in 50 years? These requirements for basic community college CEU’s are simply promoting childcare educators to be on par with plumbers and cosmetologists. And Civitas and Andrew Henson are fighting against that. We need childcare educators to be on par with Doctors and Lawyers.

    I hate to respond directly to you Hazel, because this is an issue much bigger than our own opinions – but you sound like a childcare worker who is angry because you have to do even more when you are already overpaid and under appreciated. As a fellow educator, I understand your frustration. But please don’t let the short term hassle of this certification overshadow the long term benefits. CCSA is trying to improve the childcare profession. It will be a long process and will require a lot of our support especially with groups like Civitas who are doing everything they can to keep educators in their place.

  • 14

    Anna
    Anna Mar 23, 2011 at 3:19

    Early Educators your voice is important in this discussion about the Early Educator Certification (EEC). This Certification is for you and for the early childhood field. We can no longer sit back and allow organizations like Civitas to tell us what is burdensome and adds more regulations to our work without knowing all the facts.

    The EEC supports the professionalization of the early childhood field. Yes, we love children and that is what brought us all here; however, that is not enough. Obtaining early childhood continuing education units (CEUs) or semester credit hours in a 2 or 4 year college are opportunities for greater learning outcomes for you. This expands into the classroom in your work with young children and families.

    I am a parent of 3 children. Two of my children were enrolled in a 5-star, nationally accredited program. It was important for me to have my children not only have a teacher with experience for over 15 years, but a 4 year degree in EC to support her knowledge and understanding of the individual needs of my children.

    Also, my husband is a licensed plumber and his cost is double the ECE fee and paid annually. We are talking about $50 upfront(that was provided free for over 19,000 child care providers) and a renewal of $25 every 3 to 5 years; and CEUs that many agencies/organizations in the field are working to make very affordable. I took a training today; and only paid $10 for 5 CEUs; and there are many more opportunities such as this available to you and coming soon in May within the 58 community colleges continuing education departments. The website at http://www.ncicdp.org has a calendar with available CEUs.

    The NC Institute for Child Development Professionals (Institute) is not just another private organization taking your money. This nonprofit has experienced leaders in the field who care about you and the work you do. They care about making regulations simpler and less costly. ECE will allow a single portal of entry for your information that can be shared with permission from you to DCD. DCD will continue to monitor your compliance; however, they will not have to look through all the transcripts and educational paperwork once you are certified and licensing rules incorporate EEC. This will reduce time and money for you and DCD.

    The Institute has establish EEC discounts on goods and services to help reduce cost to you and to child care programs who choose to support you in this process. The children and families we serve are the benefactors of your continued growth.
    Learn all the facts.

    EEC was a good choice for NC. NC has one of the most comprehensive early childhood systems in the nation. It is because of the collaboration and partnerships in our state that we have always worked to avoid burdensome and costly programs and to support the whole early childhood field–children, families and early educators who work with and on the behalf of young children.

  • 15

    Kay
    Kay Mar 23, 2011 at 6:17

    Anna
    PLEASE share your source for 5 CEU’s for only $10.00.

  • 16

    Jim
    Jim Mar 23, 2011 at 8:25

    The regs go up, the cost goes up. There may be an advantage here. Maybe more
    children will have a parent stay home with them. Fewer working, less tax money.
    Yes, I’m beginning to see this as a good thing.

  • 17

    Anna
    Anna Mar 23, 2011 at 15:10

    The 5 CEU’s was a part of a Pathways to Cultural Competence Training with the Division of Child Development and the Diversity and Leadership Institute, and were available through NC A&T State University. My point about the CEUs is that they are available more and more. NCaeyc will be offering CEUs at their conference, as well as NAEYC. They should be affordable. Previously CCSA offered CEUs at their January conference.

    Just a note to the last message. Every regulation does not constitute additional cost.

  • 18

    CMB
    CMB Mar 23, 2011 at 17:17

    Have you had an opportunity to view the petitions and comments from child care providers on the http://www.nclcca.org website.
    Child care providers felt they had to volunteer for the initial certification process. The response is overwhelming. Teachers are signing the petition by the hundreds all over North Carolina.

    There is a huge backlash. Teachers are not in agreement.

  • 19

    Anna
    Anna Mar 25, 2011 at 0:44

    The petition and comments from child care providers on the NCLCCA website are only available to its membership, not the general public. The Early Educator Certification is a value to “you” as a professional in the early childhood field. It is worth my $50 and more.

    It is unfortunate that teachers are not in agreement; however, I feel it is because they don’t have all the facts. They may not have all the answers to their questions. Learn more about the ECE on the website at http://www.ncicdp.org.

    Kay – CEUs are available in the coming months in Wake County $40. Great topics. Contact CCSA for details of the trainings that appear on their training calendar.

  • 20

    Sammy
    Sammy Mar 26, 2011 at 13:29

    There are free CEUs on the Institute’s Calendar of Events. Here is the link: http://ncicdp.org/calendar-of-events/

  • 21

    Sammy
    Sammy Mar 26, 2011 at 13:31

    And there are discounts for certified Early Educators too – saves money so we can pursue more education. Getting 15% off a supply order is nothing to sneeze at!

  • 22

    sss
    sss Mar 26, 2011 at 13:33

    Over 1,500 signed up to support certification levels in licensing rules so there would more flexibility in meeting requirements. We need more options not less.

  • 23

    Ian
    Ian Mar 28, 2011 at 1:09

    I can see the letters on the NCLCCA website and I’m not a member. http://www.nclcca.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=427
    There are over 200 pages. My wife is a teachers asst in the public school system and she is not required to get CEUs, but they’re wanting the day care teachers to do it? She sometimes works a summer job in a day care, but not if she has to do this. Getting training hours and going to workshops is one thing, but this seems overboard.

  • 24

    CMB
    CMB Mar 28, 2011 at 17:42

    1500 people signed up because most of them were misinformed and afraid not to. Are there any other states who are using this model. Sounds like this is a duplication of services. What is the relationship between the Institute and DCD?

  • 25

    CMB
    CMB Mar 29, 2011 at 15:29

    One of the Board members of the Institute is also a member of the Child Care Commission. Check it out http://www.ncicdp.org.
    Is this how the certification process became law without giving the ECEs a voice? What are the ties between the Institue and the North Carolina Child Care Commission?

  • 26

    CWC
    CWC Mar 30, 2011 at 12:58

    Quoting Andrew:

    “because this is an issue much bigger than our own opinions – but you sound like a childcare worker who is angry because you have to do even more when you are already overpaid and under appreciated.”

    Wow. Where exactly is this place where childcare workers are already overpaid, because I sure want to put my application in!

  • 27

    EEC Supporter
    EEC Supporter Apr 06, 2011 at 13:14

    CWC –

    I believe that was a typo on Andrew’s behalf; no need to crucify him as if you’ve never made a mistake. “Overpaid and under appreciated” clearly do not belong together in that sentence. Read between the lines and hold your sarcasm.

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