2004 Regular Session
To: Public Health and Human Services
By: Representative Watson
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 43-20-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDES THE DEFINITIONS FOR THE MISSISSIPPI CHILD CARE LICENSING LAW, TO EXTEND THE REPEAL DATE ON THE EXEMPTION OF CERTAIN ACCREDITED SCHOOLS FROM THE LICENSING LAW; TO AMEND SECTION 43-20-8, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE EACH CHILD-CARE FACILITY TO MAINTAIN A LIST OF CONTACT PERSONS FOR EACH CHILD PROVIDED CARE BY THE FACILITY; TO AUTHORIZE CHILD CARE FACILITIES TO ENTER AGREEMENTS WITH THE PARENTS, GUARDIANS OR CONTACT PERSONS OF THE CHILDREN AT THE TIME OF REGISTRATION TO INFORM THEM IF THE CHILD DOES NOT ARRIVE AT THE FACILITY WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 43-20-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-20-5. When used in this chapter, the following words shall have the following meanings:
(a) "Child-care facility" means a place that provides shelter and personal care for six (6) or more children who are not related within the third degree computed according to the civil law to the operator and who are under thirteen (13) years of age, for any part of the twenty-four-hour day, whether that place is organized or operated for profit or not. The term "child-care facility" includes day nurseries, day care centers and any other facility that falls within the scope of the definitions set forth in this paragraph, regardless of auspices. Exemptions from the provisions of this chapter include:
(i) Child-care facilities that operate for no more than two (2) days a week, whose primary purpose is to provide respite for the caregiver or temporary care during other scheduled or related activities and organized programs that operate for three (3) or fewer weeks per year such as, but not limited to, vacation bible schools and scout day camps.
(ii) Any child residential home as defined in, and in compliance with the provisions of, Section 43-16-3(b) et seq.
(iii) 1. Any elementary, including kindergarten, and/or secondary school system, accredited by the Mississippi State Department of Education, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Mississippi Private School Education Association, the American Association of Christian Schools, the Association of Christian Schools International, and any Head Start program operating in conjunction with an elementary school system, whether it is public, private or parochial, whose primary purpose is a structured school or school readiness program.
2. Accreditation, for the purpose of exemption from the provisions of this chapter, means: a. receipt by any school or school system of full accreditation from an accrediting entity listed in item 1 of this subparagraph (iii), or b. proof of application by the school or school system for accreditation status from the accrediting entity. Proof of application for accreditation status shall include, but not be limited to, a copy of the applicant's completed application for accreditation filed with the licensing agency and a letter or other authenticating documentation from a signatory authority with the accrediting entity that the application for accreditation has been received and that the applicant is currently under consideration or review for full accreditation status by the accrediting entity. An exemption for a nonaccredited applicant under this item 2 shall be for a maximum of one (1) year from the receipt date by the licensing agency of the completed documentation for proof of application for accreditation status. Failure to receive full accreditation by the end of the one-year exemption period for a nonaccredited applicant shall result in the nonaccredited applicant no longer remaining exempt from the provisions of this chapter at the end of the one-year period. However, if full accreditation is not received by the end of the one-year exemption period, the State Board of Health, in its discretion, may extend the exemption period for any nonaccredited applicant for periods of six (6) months, with the total extension not to exceed one (1) year. During any such extension periods, the board shall have the authority to enforce child-care facility licensure provisions relating to the health and safety of the children in the school or school system. If a nonaccredited applicant fails to receive full accreditation by the end of all extended exemption periods, the applicant shall no longer remain exempt from the provisions of this chapter at the end of the extended exemption periods. This item 2 shall stand repealed on July 1, 2006.
(iv) Any membership organization affiliated with a national organization that charges only a nominal annual membership fee, does not receive monthly, weekly or daily payments for services, and is certified by its national association as being in compliance with the association's minimum standards and procedures, including, but not limited to, the Boys and Girls Club of America, and the YMCA.
(v) Any family child-care home as defined in Section 43-20-53(a) et seq.
All other preschool child-care programs and/or extended day school programs must meet requirements set forth in this chapter.
(b) "Health" means that condition of being sound in mind and body and encompasses an individual's physical, mental and emotional welfare.
(c) "Safety" means that condition of being protected from hurt, injury or loss.
(d) "Person" means any person, firm, partnership, corporation or association.
(e) "Operator" means any person, acting individually or jointly with another person or persons, who * * * establishes,owns, operates, conducts or maintains a child-care facility. The child-care facility license shall be issued in the name of the operator, or, if there is more than one (1) operator, in the name of one (1) of the operators. If there is more than one (1) operator, all statutory and regulatory provisions concerning the background checks of operators shall be equally applied to all operators of a facility, including, but not limited to, a spouse who jointly owns, operates or maintains the child-care facility regardless of which particular person is named on the license.
(f) "Personal care" means assistance rendered by personnel of the child-care facility in performing one or more of the activities of daily living, which includes, but is not limited to, the feeding, personal grooming, supervising and dressing of children placed in the child-care facility.
(g) "Licensing agency" means the Mississippi State Department of Health.
(h) "Caregiver" means any person who provides direct care, supervision or guidance to children in a child-care facility, regardless of title or occupation.
SECTION 2. Section 43-20-8, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-20-8. (1) The licensing agency shall have powers and duties as set forth below, in addition to other duties prescribed under this chapter:
(a) Promulgate rules and regulations concerning the licensing and regulation of child-care facilities as defined in Section 43-20-5;
(b) Have the authority to issue, deny, suspend, revoke, restrict or otherwise take disciplinary action against licensees as provided for in this chapter;
(c) Set and collect fees and penalties as provided for in this chapter; and
(d) Have such other powers as may be required to carry out the provisions of this chapter.
(2) Child-care facilities shall assure that parents have welcome access to the child-care facility at all times.
(3) Each child care facility shall develop and maintain a current list of contact persons for each child provided care by that facility. An agreement may be made between the child care facility and the child's parent, guardian or contact person at the time of registration to inform the parent, guardian or contact person if the child does not arrive at the facility within a reasonable time.
(4) Child-care facilities shall require that, for any current or prospective caregiver, current criminal records background checks and current child abuse registry checks are obtained. In order to determine the applicant's suitability for employment, the applicant shall be fingerprinted. If no disqualifying record is identified at the state level, the fingerprints shall be forwarded by the Department of Public Safety to the FBI for a national criminal history record check.
(5) The licensing agency shall require to be performed a criminal records background check and a child abuse registry check for all operators of a child-care facility and any person living in a residence used for child care. The Department of Human Services shall have the authority to disclose to the State Department of Health any potential applicant whose name is listed on the Child Abuse Central Registry or has a pending administrative review. That information shall remain confidential by all parties. In order to determine the applicant's suitability for employment, the applicant shall be fingerprinted. If no disqualifying record is identified at the state level, the fingerprints shall be forwarded by the Department of Public Safety to the FBI for a national criminal history record check.
(6) The licensing agency shall have the authority to exclude a particular crime or crimes or a substantiated finding of child abuse and/or neglect as disqualifying individuals or entities for prospective or current employment or licensure.
(7) The licensing agency and its agents, officers, employees, attorneys and representatives shall not be held civilly liable for any findings, recommendations or actions taken under this section.
(8) All fees incurred in compliance with this section shall be borne by the child-care facility. The licensing agency is authorized to charge a fee that * * * includes the amount required by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the national criminal history record check in compliance with the Child Protection Act of 1993, as amended, and any necessary costs incurred by the licensing agency for the handling and administration of the criminal history background checks.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2004.