(a) (1) The Superintendent shall adopt rules and regulations on eligibility, enrollment, and priority of services needed to implement this chapter. In order to be eligible for federal and state subsidized child development services, families shall meet at least one requirement in each of the following areas:
(A) A family is (i) a current aid recipient, (ii) income eligible, (iii) homeless, or (iv) one whose children are recipients of protective services, or whose children have been identified as being abused, neglected, or exploited, or at risk of being abused, neglected, or exploited.
(B) A family needs the child care services (i) because the child is identified by a legal, medical, or social services agency, a local educational agency liaison for homeless children and youths designated pursuant to Section 11432(g)(1)(J)(ii) of Title 42 of the United States Code, a Head Start program, or an emergency or transitional shelter as (I) a recipient of protective services, (II) being neglected, abused, or exploited, or at risk of neglect, abuse, or exploitation, or (III) being homeless or (ii) because the parents are (I) engaged in vocational training leading directly to a recognized trade, paraprofession, or profession, (II) engaged in an educational program for English language learners or to attain a high school diploma or general educational development certificate, (III) employed or seeking employment, (IV) seeking permanent housing for family stability, or (V) incapacitated.
(2) If only one parent has signed an application for enrollment in child care services, as required by this chapter or regulations adopted to implement this chapter, and the information provided on the application indicates that there is a second parent who has not signed the application, the parent who has signed the application shall self-certify the presence or absence of the second parent under penalty of perjury. The parent who has signed the application shall not be required to submit additional information documenting the presence or absence of the second parent.
(b) Except as provided in Article 15.5 (commencing with Section 8350), priority for federal and state subsidized child development services is as follows:
(1) First priority shall be given to neglected or abused children who are recipients of child protective services, or children who are at risk of being neglected or abused, upon written referral from a legal, medical, or social services agency. If an agency is unable to enroll a child in the first priority category, the agency shall refer the family to local resource and referral services to locate services for the child.
(2) Second priority shall be given equally to eligible families, regardless of the number of parents in the home, who are income eligible. Within this priority, families with the lowest gross monthly income in relation to family size, as determined by a schedule adopted by the Superintendent, shall be admitted first. If two or more families are in the same priority in relation to income, the family that has a child with exceptional needs shall be admitted first. If there is no family of the same priority with a child with exceptional needs, the same priority family that has been on the waiting list for the longest time shall be admitted first. For purposes of determining order of admission, the grants of public assistance recipients shall be counted as income.
(3) The Superintendent shall set criteria for, and may grant specific waivers of, the priorities established in this subdivision for agencies that wish to serve specific populations, including children with exceptional needs or children of prisoners. These new waivers shall not include proposals to avoid appropriate fee schedules or admit ineligible families, but may include proposals to accept members of special populations in other than strict income order, as long as appropriate fees are paid.
(c) Notwithstanding any other law, in order to promote continuity of services, a family enrolled in a state or federally funded child care and development program whose services would otherwise be terminated because the family no longer meets the program income, eligibility, or need criteria may continue to receive child development services in another state or federally funded child care and development program if the contractor is able to transfer the family's enrollment to another program for which the family is eligible before the date of termination of services or to exchange the family's existing enrollment with the enrollment of a family in another program, provided that both families satisfy the eligibility requirements for the program in which they are being enrolled. The transfer of enrollment may be to another program within the same administrative agency or to another agency that administers state or federally funded child care and development programs.
(d) A physical examination and evaluation, including age-appropriate immunization, shall be required before, or within six weeks of, enrollment. A standard, rule, or regulation shall not require medical examination or immunization for admission to a child care and development program of a child whose parent or guardian files a letter with the governing board of the child care and development program stating that the medical examination or immunization is contrary to his or her religious beliefs, or provide for the exclusion of a child from the program because of a parent or guardian having filed the letter. However, if there is good cause to believe that a child is suffering from a recognized contagious or infectious disease, the child shall be temporarily excluded from the program until the governing board of the child care and development program is satisfied that the child is not suffering from that contagious or infectious disease.
(e) Regulations formulated and promulgated pursuant to this section shall include the recommendations of the State Department of Health Care Services relative to health care screening and the provision of health care services. The Superintendent shall seek the advice and assistance of these health authorities in situations where service under this chapter includes or requires care of children who are ill or children with exceptional needs.
(f) The Superintendent shall establish guidelines for the collection of employer-sponsored child care benefit payments from a parent whose child receives subsidized child care and development services. These guidelines shall provide for the collection of the full amount of the benefit payment, but not to exceed the actual cost of child care and development services provided, notwithstanding the applicable fee based on the fee schedule.
(g) The Superintendent shall establish guidelines according to which the director or a duly authorized representative of the child care and development program will certify children as eligible for state reimbursement pursuant to this section.
(h) (1) Except as provided in paragraphs (2) to (4), inclusive, upon establishing initial eligibility or ongoing eligibility for services under this chapter, a family shall be considered to meet all eligibility and need requirements for those services for not less than 12 months, shall receive those services for not less than 12 months before having their eligibility or need recertified, and shall not be required to report changes to income or other changes for at least 12 months.
(2) A family that establishes initial eligibility or ongoing eligibility on the basis of income shall report increases in income that exceed the threshold for ongoing income eligibility as described in subdivision (b) of Section 8263.1, and the family's ongoing eligibility for services shall at that time be recertified.
(3) A family that establishes initial eligibility or ongoing eligibility on the basis of seeking employment shall receive services under this chapter as follows:
(A) If seeking employment is the basis for initial eligibility, the family shall receive services under this chapter for not less than six months.
(B) If, at the time of recertification, the only basis established for ongoing eligibility is a parent's need to seek employment, the family shall receive services for no less than six months.
(4) A family may at any time voluntarily report income or other changes. This information shall be used, as applicable, to reduce the family's fees, increase the family's services, or extend the period of the family's eligibility before recertification.
(i) (1) Because a family that meets eligibility requirements at its most recent eligibility certification or recertification is considered eligible until the next recertification, as provided in subdivision (h), a payment made by a child development program for a child during this period shall not be considered an error or an improper payment due to a change in the family's circumstances during that same period.
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), the Superintendent or his or her designated agent may seek to recover payments that are the result of fraud.
(j) (1) Notwithstanding the rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code) and Section 33308.5 of this code, until regulations are filed with the Secretary of State to implement subdivision (h), the department shall implement subdivision (h) through management bulletins or similar letters of instruction on or before October 1, 2017.
(2) The department shall initiate a rulemaking action to implement subdivision (h) on or before December 31, 2018. The department shall convene a workgroup of parents, advocates, department staff, child development program representatives, and other stakeholders to develop recommendations regarding implementing subdivision (h).
(k) Public funds shall not be paid directly or indirectly to an agency that does not pay at least the minimum wage to each of its employees.
(Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 689, Sec. 1.)